Monday, February 20, 2017
NEW DELHI: Elections that make the political parties and the all powerful go back to the people are a great leveller. And for many not just in the Opposition but in government and the Bharatiya Janata Party, an audio clip that has almost gone viral over the social media has thrown up an almost recognisable BJP President Amit Shah---pleading, soft, almost begging at points.
The clip has been leaked---as is common now---from a meeting of a group of Jats that Shah reportedly addressed at the Delhi residence of BJP Union Minister Chaudhry Birender Singh just a few days ago, on the eve of the first crucial phase of polling in West UP where this is a dominant caste.
Shah pleads with the group, with two Union Ministers including “Chaudhry sahab” of course present, to vote for the BJP. His tone is a marked cry from the imperious tenor with which he usually addresses his party colleagues, almost begging with them not to desert the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh elections. He repeats himself several times but the two reasons he gives are:
What is more interesting is what is implied in the clip. Shah makes it clear that one as reported in The Citizen first, the Jats are deserting the BJP and the party will lose western UP if that happens. This is clearly a huge worry and as he says, speaking frankly, without the Jat vote the BJP will lose the Assembly elections in UP.
Two, despite the whispered campaign he makes it clear that in his view the Samajwadi-Congress alliance is best poised to come to power. There is no mention of Mayawati and the Bahujan Samaj party in the audio clip, with Shah repeatedly pointing out that if the BJP is defeated, the alliance will come to power. And then he goes on to remind those attending the meeting that the alliance has been against the Jats, and without referring to the Muzaffarnagar violence,reminds them that the BJP local leaders (he points at someone without naming him). had aged by “eight years” just through the effort of getting the “bachas” out of lock up, one after the other.
Shah reminds the Jats that the alternative to the BJP in the state, would be against the biradari. And would work against them. He repeatedly points out that this distance between the BJP and the biradari would not benefit either, and literally begs them not to be influenced by the emotional propaganda of others. “Please don’t accept this, we will both be hurt, and those who worked against reservation for you will benefit,” he says.
Shah further tells the group that the BJP had no interest in making them angry, what will we gain from it. There is some interruption that is inaudible on the tape but to which he responds in again very conciliatory tones, you are asking me for accounts, not those who have worked against you, don’t think like this.
This leaked audio tape is the first confirmation from the BJP about the alienated Jat vote, and the massive difference it can make for the party in these elections. It is of course, difficult to judge whether the meeting worked in pacifying the angry community but it is clear that the BJP president is deeply worried about this crucial vote bank, and sees the SP-Congress alliance as his main rival in the state.
The main point is that the BJP will lose seats in West UP constituencies if the Jat vote shifts, as it has indicated, to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, Mayawati and even to Congress party candidates in some constituencies.