You know you are walking on treacherous ground when not merely all journalists but even fund managers on blue (stock market) channels start calling an election the same way—hung house, the SP in front, BSP distant second, Congress and BJP fighting for the wooden spoon. So don’t count on me calling this election any which way. All I can do is admit that it is one of the most confusing ever. But if in five days of travel, you do not find one Dalit who is leaving Mayawati, one Yadav who is deserting Mulayam, when Brahmins are generally with the BJP, and the Muslims split 7-3 between the SP and the Congress, you can say only one thing for sure. That even after one of the longest campaigns ever, this UP election is still being fought from fortified votebank trenches. Nobody has been able to rouse the voters into venturing out of these. In 2007, Mulayam’s mafia raj and Mayawati’s image as a tough administrator had persuaded a critical mass of upper-caste voters to walk across the battlelines of caste. No such thing is evident this time.
The BJP has had the strangest approach to this election, considering that before Mayawati in 2007, it was the last party to win a full majority in 1991. They look like cutting their losses rather than winning. So no leader has been projected in a state where they have produced two chief ministers. Uma Bharti’s import from Madhya Pradesh is as much to avoid