Well, the results of the UP elections are in, and Mayawati's BSP has won with a landslide, enabling her to go it alone with a simple majority. This was only possible due to her cessation of caste-baiting and her willingness to reach out to "upper caste" groups. In a limited way, we can see similarities to the Bihar elections, where the other Yadav got knocked out and even lost the confidence of the Muslim vote due to the unprecedented crime wave.
And speaking of criminality, the public was treated to the sight of Mulayam's henchmen and the police carting off piles of records for mass shredding. At least Mulayam didn't pull a Jehanabad-style guerrilla raid in the hopes of starting a civil war. No chance of that, with Madame keeping him under constant surveillance - something she wouldn't do with her erstwhile ally and subsequent Railway Minister Lalu.
Mayawati now seems to be emerging as a homegrown Madame herself, after assiduously courting the "upper castes". Another overweight, overbearing Jayalalitha - but one with a large power base. Sonia better watch out, or everyone from Jaswant Singh to the commies will be lining up at Ms Mayawati's door. Despite his swagger, the youngest Gandhi brat failed to raise the Congress Party's fortunes beyond the bought constituencies.
Meanwhile, BJP took a drubbing, and I'm inclined to blame Rajnath Singh. Ever since he took over,the public hasn't seen or heard much of this guy. He's supposed to be billed as a low-key backroom broker who supposedly understands the rural masses better than Advani, Vajpayee after their India Shining debacle. So what did Mr Rural do? Nothing fantastic to attract the voters, from what I see. He's also been seen marginalizing Modi, who looks to me like a better and more charismatic leader for BJP to seize the voters' imagination.
As a fan of the late PV Narasimha Rao, I'm not automatically knocking the low-key backroom brokering approach, but that seems to mainly be advantageous when you're already in power. If you're out of power and want to get in, you'd better get some visibility. If Rajnath was such a good deal-maker and so in touch with the rural masses, then why didn't he at least cut a deal with BSP, to keep her from poaching their constituencies? A better approach would have been a hard-charging campaign, like Modi did in Gujarat. Nah, I'm not a big fan of Rajnath's plodding style. It would be better if he got rotated back to the backroom, and let somebody better like Modi come forward to forge ahead.
Failing that, maybe we need to hire Karl Rove.