U.P.: anti-incumbency versus core vote

"Mayawati faces anti-incumbency. But her base vote is strong, committed and transferable, which ought to be an advantage in a multicornered contest" said Vidya Subrahmaniam in The Hindu editorial. 


The defining point of Lucknow 2009 is the brown dust haze that blankets its skyline. The haze is from the relentless demolition and construction that started in May 2007, when Mayawati, in a stunning display of political showmanship, formed Uttar Pradesh’s first majority government in 16 years.


The Ambedkar parks and memorials are not new but they have all been spruced up, enlarged or remodelled, and are handsomer for the effort. Complementing these are towering statues to a pantheon of Dalit icons, including most famously to Ms Mayawati herself. But the talking point in the Nawabi city is Ms Mayawati’s future home, a palatial, fort-like affair that is coming up in the space once occupied by two large-sized government bungalows. The first was allotted to her in her capacity as former Chief Minister, and the other used to be the office of the State Cane Commissioner. Now, why would a serving Chief Minister, living in the capacious official quarters, lay simultaneous claim to an earlier residence?


The Lucknow bureaucracy explains it thus: Since this is the home she will return to once she reverts to her status as former Chief Minister, she wanted it made comfortable. It is all above board, the rebuilding is being done by the government, officials say assuringly, even as they point to government bungalows similarly enhanced by other former Chief Ministers. But given the scale and grandeur of the project, the city’s elite don’t buy this explanation. The anger is naturally evident in drawing-room conversations and it also echoes on the rural outskirts where irate residents ask if the money lavished on statues, parks and official bungalows was not better spent on industry and job creation.


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