"Haathi jam gaya jadey mein, Panja gaya bhadey mein, Cycle gayi kabade mein, ab bas kamal bacha akhade mein"
(the elephant is too rigged down to move, the hand is incapable, the cycle is trash now, it is the lotus that is still standing).
This catchy jingle about party symbols is reverberating all over Uttar Pradesh, even in the genteel environs of Lucknow, where the Yadavs continue their family slugfest unabated.
The jingle is being attributed to Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party President, who has relocated to Lucknow and mapped each and every corner of the biggest state in the country. He draws up graphics on his two smartphones (one apparently reserved for exclusive calls from Modi) on caste and community demographics from every district, bewildering the local BJP karyakarta
(worker) who has never seen data crunched to this micro-level before.
Shah, who wears suspicion like a proud suit of armour, is not entirely happy with the fierce battles being waged within the BJP by competing leaders all jostling for supremacy and unhappy about not being declared the pick for Chief Minister. The BJP is the only party fighting the election without a Chief Ministerial candidate and is banking entirely on the Modi mystique. Modi will be addressing a mammoth rally nearly every week as per the schedule chalked out by Shah, who is ensuring that he has his trusted team of volunteers come down from Gujarat and closely shadow (read: monitor) the local cadre. He has also asked the RSS to help in what will be an all-stakes battle for Modi and decide the BJP's chances in election 2019.
The RSS has deployed its volunteers on the ground; virtually every booth is being covered. After getting 71 seats in the last Lok Sabha election with his chosen band of Sadhvis
such as Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti of "Ramzade
fame and Sakshi Maharaj, the BJP chief has full control: so far, no BJP MP or minister from UP has been asked to get involved in the nuts and bolts of campaigning.
Interestingly, L K Advani will not contest from Gandhinagar in 2019, say sources, and Shah will run for parliament instead from the constituency. Already, overawed Uttar Pradesh workers predict, "Amit ji agley Grah Mantri hain"
(Shah is the next Home Minister).
So where does that leave son of the soil and present Home Minister Rajnath Singh? He is keeping a totally low profile, but after reportedly being asked by Shah, has provided the perennial troublemaker in the Samajwadi Party, Amar Singh, with "Z" category security with alacrity. A senior Home Ministry official says that the security was sanctioned in such a hurry within 24 hours that even the basic and mandatory audit was not done.
Singh will now be guarded by 24 personnel including four or five National Security Guard commandos. Singh is the second person in the Samajwadi Party after Mulayam Singh Yadav to get this level of security and Akhilesh Yadav's camp has wasted no time in putting out the word that this proves "Shakuni
Uncle's" Trojan horse (sent by the BJP) credentials. Posters are being printed about the "unholy alliance between Shah and Singh" and Yadav Junior is likely to use this as clinching evidence of Singh's "enduring links'' with the BJP and his "Modi-given mandate to wreck the SP and secular forces''. Naresh Aggarwal, Rajya Sabha member from the SP, alleged "Amar Singh the shakuni
is being showered with rewards for being a BJP agent."
As the evidence against Singh mounts, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the patriarch, is also showing signs of weakening. His son, Yadav Junior, has presented a dossier against Singh to him where he details the deals done by Singh as a direct beneficiary of the BJP's largesse. Yadav Junior is also learnt to have quoted the late Murli Deora who said on record "All that Amar Singh does is create fights between families" while citing the Ambani family and reported differences between actor Sanjay Dutt and his sister Priya Dutt. Akhilesh Yadav told his father that he shares Mulayam's dream to become President of India but Singh "bargala raha hai"
(he is misleading you). Akhilesh is learnt to have pointed out that if the cycle symbol is frozen, and the two factions duke it out, Mulayam's dreams will shatter as loudly as the party will crash in the polls.
Aware of his waning base, Yadav Senior is now making conciliatory noises. He has told local channels that there is no fight in the SP.
Sources say he has turned a deaf ear to his second family who is keen to stake a claim to his political legacy. In an apparent snub to Singh who is camped in Lucknow and is in constant touch with Shivpal Yadav and Sadhana Gupta, Mulayam did not meet him yesterday.
Both Azam Khan and Yadav Junior also pointed out to "Netaji''
that with polls barely five weeks away, the SP is embroiled in a suicidal fight and an existentialist crisis, that whole Amit Shah has ensured huge public rallies for Modi and himself, the SP had been unable to hold a single rally. Note-bandi
has given the BJP the advantage in "prachar'
' (campaign), while Shah has "used Amar Singh to ground us'' pointed out the duo.
Sources say that Akhilesh, who has 90 percent of the SP backing him, will not compromise on Amar Singh and ticket distribution but, to ensure family unity, will concede some ground on Shivpal Yadav. That's the only face-saver Netaji
is likely to get.
Mayawati, meanwhile is trying to build an impregnable citadel of Muslim-Dalit voters by taking away the SP's share of the 19 percent of UP voters that Muslims make; typically, the winning side has their vote en masse.
And where is the Congress in all? Rahul Gandhi, Vice President, is still on his extended foreign break with elections barely five weeks away. As one Congress leader said bitterly, "Some General. Abandons his troops on the eve of battle.'' But the Congress will manage an alliance with Akhilesh's faction of the SP with a much-publicised meeting between the two "yuva
(youth) leaders'' after Gandhi's return; the contours are more or less ironed out.
As the electoral stop-watch ticks, watch this space - UP has a way of turning every relationship and alliance on its head.(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.