By Sushil Kutty
The most populous state of Uttar Pradesh is in election mode with the correct people making the correct noises at the correct time. For beginners, Congress leader Salman Khurshid has named Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the vanguard for the Congress, and Samajwadi Party top-man Akhilesh Yadav has told the BJP and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to dump the ‘Lotus’ election symbol and go for the ‘Bulldozer’ because it fit the Bharatiya Janata Party’s bellicose image like a glove.
Whether the Yogi got the sarcasm or not is debatable. Point is, the UP assembly elections would without doubt take place in the first half of 2022, and there’s an eagerness in the Opposition. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath wants an encore, but whether the people of Uttar Pradesh want a repeat performance of the Yogi is a matter of concern for the BJP! Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes there will be déjà vu – the 2017 majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party all over again.
In Aligarh on September14, Modi laid the foundation stones for a “defence corridor”, and a brand new University, which the BJP believes will rival the might of the acclaimed Aligarh Muslim University. The Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University is expected to fetch loads of Hindu votes for the BJP in UP assembly elections 2022, and general elections 2024.
Actually, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is laying the foundation for a third term in office. And while at it, he told the true story of a Muslim salesman of “Aligarh locks” and his forays into Gujarat. The story told with a personal touch included musings on Modi’s father who happened to be the lock salesman’s confidante and friend.
You see, Narendra Modi is an expert in spinning yarns! Samajwadi Party top-gun Akhilesh Yadav noted this aspect of Modi’s personality when he trained guns at the Yogi Adityanath government and took aim at the Modi Government, emptying both barrels at the double-engine government of the Yogi. Yadav’s confidence is such that he gave the Yogi Government only another four months in office.
Yadav also took potshots at the Prime Minister, stating that Modi’s BJP runs a “Centre for Lies.” To stress home his contempt for the Bharaiya Janata Party, the ex-Chief Minister of UP said the BJP should seriously consider dumping its ‘Lotus’ election symbol for the ‘Bulldozer’ as the Yogi government has been busy demolishing the bare as bones hutments of the poor, and the vulnerable.
For the Opposition, Akhilesh Yadav’s belligerence is new found confidence, a welcome development. The only problem is, the opposition parties are working at odds. Old guard Salman Khurshid rooting for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be backed by a similar statement of intent from the rest of the Opposition. Ditto for Akhilesh Yadav. Neither should work at cross purposes.
As of now the signals are mixed. Some would even say there’s no signal at all. That said, a general consensus is building in favour of Akhilesh Yadav. He stands a far better chance to make Yogi and Modi bite the dust. That is, unless Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has made an impression and the electorate plumbs for her in real earnest, the Muslim voters in particular.
The Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav are also banking on the Muslim voters to turn the tide on Yogi Adityanath. There is, of course, the Owaisi factor. As usual the man is going solo and solely for the Muslim vote, and there’s the usual talk that the AIMIM is the “B-team” of the BJP, out to wrest its pound of flesh!
The fact of the matter is that without the opposition parties arriving at an understanding and an agreement to come together to fight the common enemy, there’s no way Modi and Yogi could be defeated, both of whom are intent on stitching together a communal front of Hindu votes.
The last two times the BJP notched up Hindu votes in one basket – a good majority of those votes – the BJP won a landslide in Uttar Pradesh, and a second term for Narendra Modi at the Centre. Only opposition unity and a solid phalanx of Muslim and “secular Hindu” votes can see the ouster of Yogi and Modi from the face of the electoral earth. No one man should be given the keys to Fort Knox for keeps. (IPA Service)