The New Year in Uttar Pradesh politics begins with the biennial elections to the 35 Local Authorities (local bodies) constituencies of the State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

The polls to elect 36 representatives from the 35 local bodies are due on January 7 with the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party pitted against the rest – Samajwadi Party, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since the Electoral College in this particular election consists of the gram pradhans, block development council members and MLAs, and considering that the polls have already generated a lot of political heat, the ruling party has been accused of the misuse of official machinery by the Opposition, notwithstanding the directives of the Election Commission of India.

It has been alleged that the district magistrates and the local “thanedars” (police station house officers) were acting at the behest of the State Government to browbeat the gram pradhans and BDC members to vote for the ruling party candidates.

The BSP has taken the lead in giving the tickets to close relatives of ruling party functionaries, including cabinet ministers. While, Husna Siddiqui, wife of PWD, Irrigation, Sugar Industry and Cane Development, and Excise Minister, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, has been fielded from Banda-Hamirpur local authority constituency, the Energy Minister, Ramveer Upadhyaya’s brother, Mukul Upadhyaya is in the fray from Aligarh. Mr. Siddiqui and Mr. Upadhyaya are the two senior-most members of the Mayawati cabinet.

In Faizabad, the ticket has been given to Manoj Kumar Singh alias “Guddu”. He is the brother of BSP MLA, Jitendra Kumar Singh, who is alleged to have been involved in the incident of arson at the residence of UP Congress Committee president, Rita Bahuguna Joshi in 2009.

Arvind Kumar Tripathi alias “Guddu Tripathi”, the BSP candidate from Lucknow-Unnao constituency, is the brother of BSP MP, Brijesh Pathak. In Varanasi, the BSP has fielded Annapurna Singh alias Punam Singh. She is the wife of alleged mafia don of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Brijesh Singh. Presently, in jail, Singh carried a reward of Rs. 5 lakh and was one of the “most wanted” desperadoes of the State.

Incidentally, the alleged mafia don’s brother, Uday Nath alias Chulbul Singh is the sitting MLC from Varanasi local body constituency. His term and that of 35 other MLCs from the local authorities’ constituencies expires on January 15, 2010 and the biennial elections have to be completed before January 12, 2010.

The Samajwadi Party, which is apparently the best-equipped to put up a fight against the BSP has decided not to contest from Rae Bareli (represented by the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha ), Etawah-Farrukhabad and Agra-Firozabad constituencies.

Etawah and Firozabad were considered to be the political bastions of the Samajwadi chief, Mulayam Singh till he suffered a series of electoral reverses in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha by-elections held in November 2009. However, the SP is in the fray from Mathura-Etah-Mainpuri local authority constituency, which sends two members to the Vidhan Parishad.

The Mathura-Etah-Mainpuri constituency has two seats. Mr. Mulayam Singh is the Lok Sabha MP from Mainpuri and his friend-turned-foe, Kalyan Singh from Etah.

The electoral college consists of 1,33,637 electors with the maximum number of 6612 voters in Moradabad-Bijnor constituency followed by 5618 electors in Basti-Siddhartnagar.