Uttar Pradesh boasts of sending not only the maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha but also eight PMs since independence. Besides, it has the biggest electorate in the country with 13.43 crore voters. Most of the time grabbing national headlines for its politics and polemics, UP has already been in election mode several months before the elections were announced.
There have been heated exchanges of words between Narendra Modi and Mulayam Singh Yadav in competitive rallies somehow staged the same day. It's not without reason that the PM-hopefuls this time – Modi, Mulayam, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Arvind Kejriwal or Rajnath Singh et al – would be contesting from a seat in this state.
BJP: The saffron brigade is vibrant and agog this time around due to what the party leaders call the "Modi magic". The party expects to get a tally of over 50 seats which could go up further with top leaders like Modi, Rajnath and Murli Manohar Joshi in the UP poll arena. What has particularly boosted the party cadre's morale are the results of the recent opinion polls. Irrespective of the numbers, all surveys have predicted a huge windfall for BJP in UP. The entire party campaign here as elsewhere is woven around the 'Namo mantra', though the bickering between state leaders continues to be a festering concern.
Samajwadi Party: For the SP, apart from an election it is also a referendum on the performance of the Akhilesh Yadav government. Over two years, Akhilesh has failed to make any impact as CM. His tenure has been marred by riots and poor law and order. The Muzaffarnagar riot last year has dented the government's image beyond repair and also promises to result in losses in terms of Muslim votes. The SP has been projecting the election as a direct contest against the BJP in a bid to polarise the minority vote which continues to be a decisive factor for the party's electoral fortunes. The SP is also desperately wooing the Brahmins. But factionalism within the party has taken its toll and could result in lesser MPs in the Lok Sabha.
BSP: The party led by Dalit icon Mayawati gave itself a unique advantage by finalising all its candidates in UP about three months ago. The party's campaign has always been a one-man or rather a one-woman show with everything revolving around and finalised by Mayawati alone. The party has kept a low profile organising district-level rallies by her trusted lieutenants Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Satish Chandra Mishra. The idea is to cobble a Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin votebank which would be difficult for any party to match. Mayawati has not started campaigning yet, though she has been targeting Modi in her outbursts before the media in a clear bid to lure the minorities while the party projects her as a PM probable, too.
Congress: The Congress Party surprised itself when it won 21 seats in 2009. However, the flying colours faded out soon and the party could win only 28 seats in the 2012 Assembly election despite campaigning by half-a-dozen Union ministers from UP itself. There were several MPs who could not ensure the victory of even a single MLA in their constituency. This time around, things are no different. The state party leadership is riven by internal wrangling and there is a strong resentment among the cadres over being neglected by the Central ministers, MPs and senior party leaders. Even though the party's PM hopeful Rahul Gandhi and party chief Sonia Gandhi will contest from UP again, their charisma may not be able to get even half the 2009 tally this time.
Rae Bareli -- Sonia Gandhi
Amethi -- Rahul Gandhi
Sultanpur -- Varun Gandhi
Pilibhit -- Maneka Gandhi
Mainpuri -- Mulayam Singh Yadav
Kannauj -- Dimple Yadav
Ferozabad -- Akshay Yadav (SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav's son)
Phulpur -- Naghma (Congress probable)
Moradabad -- Jaya Prada (Congress probable)
Varanasi -- Narendra Modi or MM Joshi / Arvind Kejriwal (probable)
Lucknow -- Rajnath Singh (probable)
Kanpur -- Sri Prakash Jaiswal / Raju Srivastava (Comedian -- SP)
Gonda -- Beni Prasad Verma
Baghpat -- Ajit Singh
Farrukhabad -- Salman Khursheed
Seats and vote share of major parties in past elections:
2004 (Lok Sabha):
Party Seats %
BJP – 10 – 22.17
BSP – 19 – 24.67
INC – 09 – 12.04
SP – 35 – 26.74
2009 (Lok Sabha):
Party Seats %
BJP – 10 – 17.5
BSP – 20 – 27.4
INC – 21 – 18.2
SP – 23 – 23.2
2012 (Vidhan Sabha):
Party Seats %
BJP – 47 – 15
BSP – 80 – 25.9
INC – 28 – 11.6
SP – 224 – 29.1