As star campaigners of all political parties are packing a busy schedule of meetings in Uttar Pradesh, where people have voted in two rounds of polling to elect a new Assembly, there are some who have evolved their own ways and methods of putting their ideas across to people.
Key members of India Against Corruption — the former IPS officer, Kiran Bedi, and Manish Sisodia — have extensively toured eastern U.P. over the past week, addressing gatherings in Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Azamgarh and Allahabad.
Team Anna has urged the electorate to realise their might and vote for candidates with clean track record and impeccable credentials. They even asked people to exercise their right “not to vote for any of the candidates.” And for the first time, 15 voters in the second round of polls on Saturday exercised this right.
Both Ms. Bedi and Mr. Sisodia posed questions to the Congress, the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party on their track record in keeping their promises to people. They appealed to people to choose a representative who would care to redress their grievances and work to remove corruption and support tough anti-corruption measures such as the Jan Lokpal Bill.
All major parties have different units to hold seminars and discussions, but the Congress took it rather seriously. It utilised the services of the Rajiv Gandhi Study Circle and its student wing, the National Students Union of India (NSUI), to organise a meeting of teachers, student leaders, academicians, chartered accountants and lawyers here. The focus was on the party's vision document for building a new U.P. by 2020. The party fielded Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and the former chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Girija Vyas, to explain its vision for building a U.P. where “good governance is restored and corruption eliminated.”
Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu, “This is being launched in Varanasi but a chain of similar seminars will be organised at 12 more places in the State. Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Meerut and Agra will be next in line.”
Pointing out that the document “Nav Uttar Pradesh 2020” was different from the party manifesto, he said it formed the agenda for development.
“This document seeks to spur people into a debate about development of U.P., which has lagged behind. It does not matter whether the Congress comes to power or not, this document bears the imprint of Rahul Gandhi and it will compel others to discuss it and carry it forward. It is all about health, security, education, jobs, transport and development of villages,” he noted.
Nearly 17 per cent of the country's population, he said, came from U.P. and had it been a different country, it would have been the sixth largest country of the world. Decentralisation was crucial in U.P. and it was not happening. Over Rs. 40,000 crore was spent on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme alone so far and the Comptroller and Auditor-General would soon audit all rural welfare schemes, bringing in transparency in implementation of such schemes.
If good polling percentage in the first two rounds is any indication, clearly the electorate, particularly those in the backward belt of the eastern areas, have left political observers puzzled who are falling on traditional wisdom to say that a change in the State may well be on the cards.