Gully Bullying - U.P. Poll Campaign Sinks to a New Low
Income tax also makes its debut in the UP campaign
LUCKNOW: The elections in Uttar Pradesh have moved away from good politics and are now all about bullying and that too, at the gully level.
Slander, laced with communalism, dominates electioneering and personal barbs are the order of the day.
A new political vocabulary is emerging.
From ‘abbajan’ and ‘chacha jaan’, from Aurangzeb to Jinnah, from ‘Jinnahjeevi’ to ‘kainchi jeevi’ and ‘cycle of corruption’ to ‘lotus of loot’—political leaders have already said it all.
On Sunday, the Income Tax made its debut in the election arena. Multiple raids were conducted at the residences of three Akhilesh aides – Rajiv Rai, Manoj Yadav and Gajendra a.k.a Neetu.
The Central Bureau of Investigation officials also arrived in Pratapgarh on Sunday to reopen the 2013 case related to the murder of DSP Zia-ul-Haq.
Haq was killed in Pratapgarh where he had gone to probe the murder of a village headman. During the investigation a clash took place between villagers and police and he was allegedly abandoned by the police. Later, firing took place during which Haq was killed.
The then cabinet minister, Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a. Raja Bhaiyya, was said to have masterminded the murder. He resigned and was reinstated after being given a clean chit by the CBI.
Raja Bhaiyya has now floated his own Jansatta Dal and is preparing to contest the UP assembly polls.
“It is obvious that the CBI is being used to bully us but we will not succumb to such pressures. I am sure other central agencies like ED are also on their way,” said Akhilesh whose ‘Vijay Yatras’ have been drawing huge crowds and this has apparently unnerved the ruling BJP.
The BJP which has been pompously claiming to return to power with 300 plus seats in UP, is undoubtedly becoming increasingly nervous as the countdown to polls begins.
The party’s nervousness is evident from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made multiple visits to the state. He will be visiting UP four times in the next ten days.
“I have never seen a Prime Minister visit one state so frequently during elections, which are being held in five states simultaneously. His speeches are also not what a Prime Minister should say. The manner in which he is attacking the Samajwadi Party is cutting down his own dignity and stature. In fact, it strongly reminds one of the now famous ‘Didi O Didi’ refrain from West Bengal elections,” said R K Swarup, a retired political scientist.
The BJP has also launched a massive publicity campaign on all genres of media –TV, newspaper and digital.
While the state is poised for a bipolar contest between BJP and Samajwadi Party which has perfectly positioned itself as the main challenger to the ruling dispensation, the BJP has been desperately trying to change the narrative from the development plank to its patent communal card.
Amit Shah, at a joint rally with the Nishad Party in Lucknow on Friday, addressed the Nishad community as ‘friends of Lord Ram’ and went on to explain how “Modi ji had cleared the path for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.”
He conveniently forgot to mention the Nishad demand for reservation and as soon as he wound up the speech, the members of the community went on a rampage, breaking chairs and vowing not to vote for BJP.
Akhilesh Yadav, on the other hand, has cleverly stitched an alliance of smaller caste groups – mostly from the OBC category—and is highlighting the failures of the Yogi Adityanath government.
He is, in fact, using the same strategy which the BJP used in 2017 to gain power.
Inflation and price hike of essential commodities which has affected every section of society is the cornerstone of the Samajwadi campaign.
Yadav speaks of the price of mustard oil, petrol, diesel, unemployment, farmers’ issues, students’ problems and reminds people of the Covid mismanagement that includes shortage of oxygen, floating dead bodies and, of course, the travails faced by migrant workers in 2002.
To remind people of the horrors of demonetisation, he flaunts Khazanchi, a five -year-old boy who was born outside a bank where his mother was waiting in a queue to exchange money.
SP spokesman Anurag Bhadauria said, “The thousands that throng Akhilesh Yadav’s rath during his yatras, have not been ferried in government buses. They are staying up on the roads till well past midnight to greet the leader. If the BJP wants to dig its neck in sand and adopt an ostrich-like approach, we can do nothing about it.”
The BJP, instead of responding to allegations being levelled by the SP, is getting personal in its attacks.
Nepotism is being used as a weapon against the SP and Yadav is targeted for his foreign trips.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, meanwhile, have been reduced to the status of non-players in the UP polls—at least, for now.
BSP president Mayawati is conspicuous by her absence and leading the party campaign is Satish Chandra Mishra, a Brahmin. Mayawati’s presence is limited to a tweet a day.
The BSP seems more interested in wooing Brahmins than in keeping Dalits into its fold. Perhaps, the party is over-confident of its Dalit vote base.
Besides, BSP supporters are confused at Mayawati’s political posture which is decidedly soft on BJP and offensive towards SP and Congress.
The Congress, on the other hand, is living in a state of utopia, generated by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s dedicated team.
The team is going full steam on slogans, posters and songs on ‘Ladki hoon, Lad sakti hoon’ while the party is slowly imploding.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team has ensured that leaders adopt the exit route and the party has lost a record number of leaders in the past two months.
The leadership remains blissfully ignorant about the situation within the party.
UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu claims that the Congress will form the government in UP while analysts doubt if the party will even cross the double-digit mark.
One party that is slowly but steadily making inroads in UP politics is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
AAP is shrewdly targeting the middle-class voters that have been virtually abandoned by the BJP.
“We are not talking about caste and community because that is not our agenda at all. We are promising jobs, free electricity and good governance. We are promoting the Kejriwal model of governance and people are listening to us,” said AAP spokesman Vaibhav Maheshwari.
AAP may or may not win seats in UP but the party will prove that it is here to stay.