Tracking the UP polls

This year's Uttar Pradesh polls look poised to be interesting, even though my affinity for the state has lessened with each trip through it on the way to Mussoorie. I'm glad Mussoorie is a part of Uttarakhand. Not that there's a helluva difference between the two states, but all this ruckus about minorities, an overwhelming population and new legislature doesnt seem to have gotten all the way up there yet.

I noticed that the UP government has moved a special appeal against the Allahabad High Court ruling that Muslims could not be considered minorities in the state. The message coming out is clearly, "Muslims are not entitled to be recognised as a religious minority." Thats all well and done, but UP has a history of making statements and then failing to follow through.

And then we have the Congress Party's young [half-white] Indian hope, Rahul Gandhi, heir of India's greatest political dynasty. Yes, he's drawing crowds ahead of the elections, but does he have the clout to pull in votes? UP - which elects a state assembly in seven stages - has traditionally been a bastion for the Gandhi family, but analysts have said that Rahul's charm isn't enough to win votes. The rise of regional political parties playing on local aspirations and caste and communal divides have seen Congress steadily lose support over the last two decades. Some reports, from direct communication with locals in UP, say that Rahul's focus on development seems to have touched a chord among people who say they are fed up of caste and religion-based politics. It's going to be an interesting voting process to follow.

Millions voted on Saturday in UP at the start of staggered polls, as the ruling Congress party suffered a crushing election defeat in New Delhi. Reports say that 46% of 16 million voters came out to vote in 62 of the state's 403 assembly seats in the first leg of the seven-phase elections.

Apart from keeping tabs on the news channels, I read this interesting article on the BBC. Doesnt make for pleasant reading.

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