For the BJP, without the Ramjanmabhoomi issue to bank upon and the Most Backward Caste (MBC) /Most Dalit Caste (MDC) card not having conjured up the wonders it was supposed to, the situation has progressively become more fluid. To offset the MBC/MDC fiasco, the party has distributed 167 seats to candidates belonging to the 'most backward' castes, but that has come at the cost of caste Hindus, its traditional supporters. The latter are in any case not too happy at their gradual marginalisation in state politics. And with the Muslims likely to vote tactically against the party, coupled with the fact that close to 100 seats have been allotted to its allies, one thing that's very clear in this otherwise uncertain jumble of events is that the ruling BJP will have a difficult time in retaining the 158 seats it won in the 1996 assembly elections and will concede some ground to the SP, the BSP and even the Congress.
To add to its anxieties, the BJP's presence in eastern UP—the stronghold of Rajnath and state BJP chief Kalraj Mishra—is seriously threatened, with the SP and the BSP emerging as serious contenders. The SP also seems set to open its account in western UP, the BJP's biggest hope in the state. In eastern UP, Mulayam holds the MY ace. For, while the Azamgarh-Mau-Jaunpur-Maharajganj belt is Muslim-dominated, Ghazipur, Siddharthanagar, Gorakhpur and Deoria have a substantial Yadav population. Despite Mayawati fielding 91 Muslims, SP's turf is safe. The preponderant feeling in the state is that Mayawati will tie up with the BJP, so a vote for her is a vote for the BJP.