Lucknow Gup : Of Jinxes and Bulldozers
Fresh faces in new UP cabinet
The city is covered in a cloud of curiosities this Holi as it celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The colourful festival remains an occasion to forgive and to forget. It is a day to wash away negative energies from life, and to start afresh.
But how many of us are inspired by the gracious spirit of the festival is difficult to say. It is perhaps easier to guess who UP’s new chief minister (CM) might be.
Will Yogi Adityanath continue in a second term as CM, or will he go to Delhi in search of greener pastures will be known soon enough.
In the meanwhile the CM has shattered a couple of jinxes during the recently concluded assembly elections. This is the first time that the same political party will form a government in UP for two consecutive terms. It was also believed that chief ministers who visit Noida while in office lose power in UP. Not anymore, as the ruling party has proved otherwise. The BJP has retained power in UP, winning 255 of the 403 Assembly seats despite the CMs visits to Noida.
The new government is expected to be announced on Monday, and will see many a fresh face. Eleven ministers have lost the recently concluded polls, including deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya. None of them will be named in the new government, except Maurya who is an important OBC face of the BJP in UP. He lost the election to SP's Pallavi Patel from Sirathu, his place of birth.
There is less talk of him today, and more of another Maurya. All eyes are on Baby Rani Maurya, the winner from Agra Rural. To fulfil the political vacuum left by Mayawati, Baby Rani is being groomed as a Dalit leader within the BJP.
She was the first female mayor of Agra and then the Governor of Uttarakhand. She has also been a BJP vice-president in UP. Today she is expected to play a pivotal role in the state, maybe even as deputy CM.
Although it is not certain how many deputy chief ministers will be eventually appointed. At the moment there are three. In the future there could be one, or more than three in a gesture to accommodate the many communities that have helped the BJP to return to power. BJP won all the nine assembly seats in Agra like it had in the 2017 polls.
Sanjay Nishad, founder of the Nishad Party and a BJP ally surely waits to be made part of the new government. Nishad has already said that BJP has made an ordinary chaiwala’s son a prime minister therefore the son of a Nishad too can be made something.
The Nishad is a backward community of traditionally fishermen and boat people. The Nishad Party contested 15 seats in east UP, the maximum given by the BJP to an ally.
While victorious politicians wait to be rewarded with ministerial berths, many an ordinary citizen wonders
why they did not get the cooking gas cylinder promised to them by the BJP as a free gift at Holi?
Is it because the elections are over?
No cooking gas cylinder this Holi, but bulldozers have returned. In Meerut the property of an alleged member of a mafia has been bulldozed. The BJP has won a majority again in UP. During the election campaign it was warned that the bulldozers have been sent for repairs and would be put to use after the election results were announced on March 10. Bulldozers are seen today as the solution to all the problems faced by the state.
Now that BJP has returned to power in UP with a majority most generous, will the Hindutva rhetoric take a break?
Not likely, say political analysts. Hindutva issues are likely to remain on track. It is Hindutva that has showered the BJP with power and communal polarisation is expected to continue.
The larger question is how the opposition parties plan to counter the hate speech and their effort to prevent divisive politics from tearing apart the social fabric of the state? The impression outside of UP seems to be that the BJP has made the country’s most backward state into a smart state. The BJP seems to believe that UP is actually the number one state in the country?
The BJP wants the rest of the world to think that it wins elections in the country only on grounds of communal politics. That is where the beneficiaries of freebies doled out by the government in recent times are hitting the headlines. The beneficiaries are projected as the expanding vote bank of the BJP.
However the exact number of beneficiaries is still uncertain.
People in UP continue to praise the fight put up by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, almost by himself. The hope is that the caravan of supporters collected by Akhilesh Yadav just half a year before the polls will not scatter away, and will not fall by the wayside. What will make the socialist movement work for the people of UP is to be seen at a time when the percentage of unemployed in the state is on a rise and poverty is lower than before.
The other question is if Akhilesh Yadav will give up his Lok Sabha seat and concentrate on politics in the state or will he give up his recently won Assembly seat and prepare to challenge the BJP in Delhi? Is Akhilesh Yadav comfortable leaving the recent gains made by the SP in UP to uncle Shivpal Yadav, and to strongman Swami Prasad Maurya who lost his seat but is expected to contest in a by-election.
The opposition parties frustrate the people of the state by not sharing their long term vision of a more progressive, fair state.
How will the SP and the Congress counter the power, wealth and aggression of the BJP is still not certain even in the face of electoral victory after electoral victory enjoyed in recent times by the BJP.
It is meaningless to ask which house Priyanka Gandhi will occupy in Lucknow and whether she will live here in preparation for the parliamentary elections in 2024, or not? First the Congress has to make up its mind whether Priyanka Gandhi will continue to lead UP in the polls in 2024.
The Congress needs to reinvent itself and work at the grassroots day and night. It needs to share its idea of UP with voters here. That is if it has any clue itself of why it remains in politics and what it has to offer to the state where the majority of people remain unemployed, poor and illiterate.