An animated discussion that sprang up on the Allahabad University campus on the morning of February 20, a day after the third phase of polling in the seven-phased ongoing Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, reflected the larger debate in the State among the principal contestants and a section of political observers. The participants in the impromptu campus debate were a clutch of students and non-teaching staff. Between them they represented all the major political formations of the State as well as a significant stream of thinking among non-partisan evaluators of the ongoing elections.
Shambub Yadav and his three friends had no doubt that the development-oriented “Kaam bolta hai” (work speaks) slogan of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the ruling Samajwadi Party (S.P.) had no match on the election scene or in the campaign of the rival parties and that the S.P., along with its ally, the Congress, was set to romp home with a decisive majority.
Sudhanshu Pandey contested this theory by saying that, as in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the primary factor in the 2017 Assembly elections was Narendra Modi and his political personality, including the unique governance initiatives he had taken up as Prime Minister. “The BJP’s score must have reached close to 150 after the completion of polling in 209 seats in the first three phases. A majority is just a matter of course now,” he maintained. Ramkishan, another student, pooh-poohed the