‘Akhilesh’s campaign more impressive than Rahul’s’

Professor Pushpesh K Pant says reservation gambit will misfire, to Congress’ distress.

The D-Day is nearing… On March 06, 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections results will be declared– a state which sends 80 Members of Parliament to the Lok Sabha. Leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Singh Yadav have campaigned extensively, but only time will tell whether UP will vote for change or Mayawati will triumph again.

In an exclusive interview to Zeenews.com’s Biplob Ghosal, professor and political analyst Pushpesh K Pant, who recently travelled across the poll bound state, gives an analytical view on various issues ranging from Congress leaders’ much hyped quota remarks to Rahul Gandhi’s Bollywood style of campaigning.

Professor Pant has teaching experience of 32 years at the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Biplob: Which candidate has better chance of winning over voters - Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Singh Yadav or Rahul Gandhi? Why?

Pushpesh Pant: The most impressive campaign was conducted by Akhilesh- restrained yet forceful, relying on reason rather than emotion, not abusive or abrasive. It stood out in sharp contrast with Rahul Gandhi`s histrionics reminiscent of B grade Hindi films. He should register impressive gains. He put his foot down to keep DP Yadav out and didn`t lose his temper. Nor did he appease any vote bank with promise of reservations. Mayawati bore the brunt of the double barreled attack.

Biplob: How do you view Rahul Gandhi’s style of campaigning? Will Assembly elections be make or break for the Gandhi scion? Also, will the results affect his prime ministerial prospects?

Pushpesh Pant: It’s not make or break for Rahul and always the credit for victory will be ascribed to him and failure will find a ready loyal scapegoat. The family charisma shall be propped up with some flimsy excuse. Although, Congress can`t do worse than last time and should increase its share of seats and votes, it’s hard to see how this can qualify as victory of any sort.

Biplob: Two senior Congress ministers recently spoke of minority subquota during campaigning. How much impact will the quota promise have on UP voters? Will the issues like caste, religion and quota dominate the voters’ mind in 2012 as well?

Pushpesh Pant: I feel that the reservation gambit will misfire, to Congress’ distress. The minority voter is not so gullible today as not to see through this dirty double dealing game.

Biplob: Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and Sriprakash Jaiswal recently flouted rules with their speeches at election meetings. How do you view their speeches and what`s your take on Election Commission`s action against them?

Pushpesh Pant: The conduct of Salman Khurshid and Sriprakash Jaiswal as well as Beni Prasad is shocking and totally unacceptable. The EC should have meted out exemplary deterrent punishment. I feel they were let off much too easily.

Biplob: Do you foresee a decisive verdict in UP like last time? And who is going to benefit?

Pushpesh Pant: I don`t foresee a decisive verdict either this time or in near future. It’s hard to see how a parliamentary majority can emerge when electorate is bitterly divided and there is no coincidence of interest.

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