Agra: Anna Hazare's
efforts to inject a degree of sanity in political behaviour
appears to have made no impact on political strategies and
selection of candidates for the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh
A cursory look at the lists of candidates fielded by various
political groups makes it clear that caste consideration, ability
to win, clout and money-muscle power remain the guiding
"One expected a significant departure from established practices
but the hopes have been belied," social activist Shravan Kumar
Singh told IANS.
Senior citizen Surendra Sharma blamed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
in particular as it constantly talks of its desire to change the
face of the country.
"The BJP is caught in a catch-22 situation. Its leaders do not
know what to do and how to strategise to lure the over 10 million
new voters who have dreams.
"By inducting discredited politicians from other parties, it has
sent out wrong messages which will prove to be the party's
undoing," he warned.
Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, will hold a
seven-phase election in February to pick a new state assembly.
A tough four-way contest is on the cards involving the ruling
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the
The Rahul Gandhi-led election machine has tried to field some new
candidates who have fresh image but caste considerations have not
been given the go by.
Explained Sudhir Gupta, a political activist: "Sumit Bibhav, the
young Congress candidate from Agra North, is a fresh, clean and
professional face. But his chief merit is the Vaishya community to
which he belongs.
"He is pitted against BSP and BJP's bania candidates. While the
Samajwadi Party has decided to experiment with a Brahmin
candidate, a novice in politics, knowing perhaps the party has no
chance of winning," said Gupta.
All major political parties have fielded candidates according to
caste dynamics of individual constituencies in the sprawling Agra
region, about 200 km south of Delhi.
"No wonder the tainted faces are back in the reckoning. So what
have you at the end of the day?" asked analyst Vinay Paliwal.
Many in Agra say that it is amazing how the Anna movement for a
corruption-free India and the related issues it threw up have been
"Who are the Anna supporters and where are they? What difference
will they make in the assembly elections? Will they or will they
not mobilise support for one or the other candidates, or will they
remain neutral?" the leader of a local group asked.
Khandelwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)