The Election Commission of India on Wednesday announced the dates of assembly elections for Uttar Pradesh’s 403 assembly seats. The polling exercise in Uttar Pradesh will be spread over seven phases, with the first phase set to begin on February 11. The last date of polling is on March 8 and counting of votes will begin on March 11. Now that the election in Uttar Pradesh is just a month away let’s examine where all political parties stand today.

The current political equation of the politically active Uttar Pradesh is yet not clear. There is high possibility of Samajwadi Party joining hands with Rashtriya Lok Dal, Congress, and BJP will mostly go ahead with NDA Apna Dal, and Lok Janshakti Party.

The agencies involved in opinion polls are struggling hard to predict the future. As of now we can only focus on the major four parties – Bharatiya Janata Party, Bah[ujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, and Congress.

The opinion poll conducted by India Today-Axis between October and December last year gives the Bharatiya Janata Party a clear majority of 206-216 out of the total 403 seats. The opinion poll also give Samajwadi Party, which is embroiled in a family feud, 92-97 seats followed by the Bahujan Samaj Party 79-85 seats and the Congress coming a distant fourth with 5-9 seats. On the other hand, ABP News-Lokniti-CSDS predicted a close fight between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party in UP. While it gave 141-151 seats to the Samajwadi Party, 129-139 to the BJP, 93-103 to the Bahujan Samaj Party and 13-19 to the Congress.

According to the India Today-Axis opinion poll, The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to clinch Uttar Pradesh in state assembly elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party in last two months has gained more than two percent vote share. It is important to understand that Bharatiya Janata Party has increased its vote share from 31percent in October to 33 percent in December. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation announcement has worked in the favour of the party. The 33 percent vote share would roughly translate into 206-216 seats for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The proposed numbers will give them clear majority in 403-member assembly. This is a major improvement considering that the party had won just 47 seats in the last assembly elections.

The polls survey paints a grim picture for the ruling Samajwadi Party, which is currently embroiled in a battle of control-of-Party between Father and Chief-of-Party Mulayam Singh Yadav and son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. It is unlikely that the party would emerge a strong contender for power, if they go their separate ways. The party’s vote base would get divided if two strong leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav part ways.

It is very important to understand that Akhilesh Yadav may appear stronger now but he certainly is less trained at building social coalitions as his father. However, the good news for the Samajwadi Party is that Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as a clear choice for the next state chief minister. As of now, the biggest challenge is that Akhilesh Yadav is to keep the Samajwadi equation of social-engineering intact. The party will also face a test about whether it can keep its Muslim-Yadav support intact after the control of the party comes to Akhilesh

The Bahujan Samaj Party will be downgraded to third place as ABP-CSDS poll predicts 93-103 seats for the party and India Today-Axis survey gives 75-85 seats with a vote share 26 percent. Though, the opinion polls do not offer much hope to the party, placing it at number three behind the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Samajwadi Party.

The Bahujan Samaj Party has managed to attract and retain 25-27 percent vote share for almost a decade in assembly elections but in general election vote share touched a low 19 percent. The last general election indicated a major chunk of Dalit votes, the core supporters of Mayawati, shifted to the Bharatiya Janata Party. In Uttar Pradesh, the way all parties are placed at the moment Bahujan Samaj Party could spring a surprise. Yes, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party can be the dark horse in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly election.

The age-old party Congress, which is out of power in UP for last 27 years will continue to be out of power corridors as their numbers are expected to fall to single digits. There are strong talk of Congress joining hands with in the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.