By Haider Abbas
The issues which have bogged down UP, and which are now to resonate, from all corners, are all proving to be a hard-rock for BJP-the ruling party with a double-engine government in Lucknow and New Delhi. BJP UP CM Ajay Singh Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath, is amidst the most rampant anti-incumbency factor. What supposedly has gone wrong, or may go wrong, and which has made BJP reach the peoples’ onslaught, therefore, has to be analyzed, as that it what would be the sum of the last five-years. The ground-zero report is what is needed to be tapped.
The most stunning part is that people at large are disgruntled with BJP particularly in the wake of its spurned-up promises, and this is making people have a ‘reaction’ against BJP and also in its way a call for change towards SP, which is the only dominant alternative option available in UP right now. First and foremost comes Bundelkhand which is the smallest segment of 19/403 seats in UP. This is no doubt the stranglehold of BJP, but the way SP Akhilesh Yadav was to find a human ocean on his visit to Jhansi, on December 3, 2021, spoke of the anti-BJP wave from Bundelkhand. This region has never been the stronghold of SP, but this region has always shown a ‘swing towards one’ and the way BJP has non-delivered on its promises, particularly on the plank of water, in its 2017-22 regime, there is an all likelihood of SP staking a lead this time.
This region also does not have any large presence of Muslims, hence, polarization is also not visible, but young generation is quite dismayed due to the high-rise employment. The slogan of BJP ghar-ghar pani/ghar-ghar nul ( Water tap in every household) but the tragedy is that women in Bundelkhad have to travel for kilometers to fetch water and are so unhappy that they pray that their husbands may die but the water container should remain intact. The river Mandakni, which flows through Chitrakoot is no more a picture of its past and has become more of a ravine. BJP recently even accorded a Water-Dam from Telengana to be that of Bundelkhand in one of its advertisements, so as to further disgrace people of the region. The three murders inside Chitrakoot Jail (May 14, 2021) also made a dent on the BJP’s claim of its law-and-order position. BJP had won all the seats in 2017. Wonder what the region got? Once the BJP government led by Narendra Modi had even sent an ‘empty’ water-wagon-train to Bundelkhand!
From Central UP there is also an anti-BJP current as BJP and its alliance is slated to be downsized, by what is emanating from Central UP aka Avadh region as well. After the announcement that Priyanka Gandhi may contest elections, there is also a likelihood that Congress may also win a few seats, which automatically would mean , a loss to BJP, as Congress too depends on its Brahmin/Thakur votes, as its core constituency like what BJP does, as Muslims seem to side wholesomely towards SP. This region accounts for 81 seats. By any standard SP is all set to make incredible gains here, as the same has forced Yogi Adityanath to have ‘second thoughts’ to fight from Ayodhya and look for a safer-seat from Gorakhpur. This single factor spells the jitter inside the BJP establishment. The reverse-swing against BJP is all in the making! Despite this part of UP being the bulwark of BJP power.
Here, despite being the most virulent communalistic politics of BJP, since 1986, when Babri Masjid locks were opened-up, and which ultimately led to the ‘golden-moment’ for BJP as Ram Temple was cleared to be made on the demolished site of Babri Masjid, yet BJP proved far-more involved in the massive land-scam around the area of Ram Temple. Those BJP leaders/ members/bureaucrats who were suppose to make for ‘Ram Temple’ were found to be allegedly involved into buying land from Scheduled Castes etc, for a pittance and traders and businessmen from Gujarat (of BJP) and even journalists affiliated to BJP, only cared for their lucrative prospects for their would-be hotel industries etc. Perhaps, what once Kabir said, 500 years back, Ram Naam ki loot machi hai loot sake to loot ( There is a plunder in the name of Ram do it if you can) is still proving ominous! There are even allegations, that the fund generated from common people for the construction of Ram Temple, is being appropriated for the propaganda of BJP. This has been claimed by the outgoing BJP District President Firozabad BL Verma in his resignation letter on January 23.
He has been vocal into his dismay as to how the enormous fund for Ram Temple is being diverted towards the BJP poll campaign and how people ( Hindus) have been bluffed over their religious believes by the BJP/RSS craft masters. How will now people account for around 19 visits of Yogi Adityanath to Ayodhya, who feigned his total ignorance over the embezzlement of lands/money right under his nose by his own affiliates, by only illuminating lamps in his whole tenure in Ayodhya, while houses and other properties were demolished to pave way for only tourism/business in the name of Ram temple. Perhaps, anger from people at large and specially from Brahmins of Ayodhya (Tej Narain Pandey etc) forced Yogi Adityanath to forsake the idea and move to Gorakhpur. Interestingly, and also shamelessly, there are many Shiites too, who donated for Ram Temple as well.
The polls are to kick-start from this region and most arguably it is the place where the farmers movement was most momentous against the BJP government three anti-farmer laws, which were later forced to be withdrawn, and therefore, the Jats and Muslims, even when Muzaffarnagar (2013) riots orchestrated by BJP had taken place, have this time decided to come together as there is no more a dictum of Hindu-Muslim divide, as more than around 700 farmers have lay dead. In 2017 RLD, now in alliance with SP had got only one seat, but now Vikram Singh Saini BJP MLA has been chased-away from his own Saini Samaj constituency (January 20), there are all-bound chances of SP alliance having an upswing in this region. A massive resentment against BJP is in air. In Mathura Puran Prakash Jatav, a BJP candidate had to face the ire of Gujjar Samaj people and had to leave the place. This discontent of Gujjars is solely for the fact that BJP has accorded a ‘Rajput Status’ to the biggest icon of Gujjar Samaj-Emperor Mihir Bhoj on September 23, 2021. Gujjars have been one of the rock-solid vote-bank of BJP and also very anti-Muslims too, but this single move of rather berating Emperor Mihir Bhoj, is most likely to reverberate on the ballot-boxes against BJP. Perhaps, revenge from Gujjars in Western UP is what all awaits BJP.
A BJP leader known for his hard labour Laxmikant Bajpai, who was once touted to be sent to Rajya Sabha, has been denied ticket and on his place Kamal Dutt Sharma will fight. He is the same Sharma who was allegedly caught ‘red-handed’ with another man’s wife in a video which went viral. She was caught by her own husband. Is this what BJP wants to prove through its Chal/Charitra/Chehre campaign? It may also be known that BJP MP Sanjeev Balyan had propagated that Naresh Tikait, the leader of farmers agitation, had given him blessings, which the latter cleared that there was no announcement of support to BJP. A total boycott from sugarcane farmers is coming out from inside as BJP Sugar Industry and Cane Minister Suresh Rana is not even allowed to enter villages owing to the discontent over the long pending sugarcane dues.
It may also be recalled that when farmers were offered to withdraw their one year agitation, there is yet any proverbial penny to reach them, as even those officers, who went on Central Governments behalf to negotiate with farmers have gone incommunicado! This is yet another attempt of BJP to further sneer at farmers, all the while, as BJP has given signals that further more stringent farmer laws are to arrive! There is yet no scope for the withdrawal of around 50,000 cases against farmers and not any compensation yet too. Notwithstanding the Lakhimpur Kheri incident (October 3, 2021) when BJP State Minister of Home son Ashish Mishra killed four innocent farmers by his rampaging SUVs! The Minister is sitting pretty alongside Narendra Modi.
What Union Home Minister Amit Shah has done in Kairana on January 23, talking of the exodus of Hindus, out of fear of Muslims, has long proved to a hoax, as a list of ‘those to have left’ given by BJP had names who were well-in-there and also had names of even those who had long died. The big question is why this rhetoric still when the last five years BJP was in office. Why could not BJP instill confidence to make Hindus remain-in, if not the whole issue was only a figment of communal imagination. The Muslims of the region are not reacting, which is the what makes BJP scratch-its-head, as despite most virulent attack on Muslims and Islamic faith by Dharam Sansads in Haridwar, non-allowance of Muslims offering prayers in the open, despite official permissions, and instead Bhawati Jagran on the same sites, extracting cow-meat at sweet-will from anyone bag or household , could not stir the communal atmosphere, which is a clear signal that Jats, Gujjars, Muslims and even Dalits are to rally for the SP-RLD alliance, despite the hiccups into the distribution of tickets. Dalits are into for this alliance as BSP is fielding no prospects and the rape of the Dalit girl in Hathras is also very fresh in memory. For Dalits BSP is a dead-corner. Not to be left behind, is the tokenism of BJP in the form of making Dinesh Khatik a minister ( Backward) , and who had to face the lawyers ire as he is accused of making an advocate commit suicide etc.
Courtesy: Dainik Jagran.
So heavy are the odds against BJP that Narendra Modi had to visited the region for seven times in the recent time and even that Yogi Adityanath is grappling to save the space and has landed in Gorakhpur. The political situation is loaded in favour of SP and its alliance as BJP ministers like OP Rajbhar, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, Dharam Singh Saini etc leaving BJP is a proof enough that BJP is in actuality anti-Backwards.
This is to add to the disgruntled position of the Upper Caste Hindus-Brahmins who have started to seek refuge outside BJP and Ex. CM of UP Kamlapati Tripathi son Rajeshpati Tripthi and grandson Lalitesh Tripathi joined TMC which is have a truck with SP. The leading Brahmin faces like Kaushal Shanker Tiwari and Vinay Shanker Tiwari and former UP Assembly Speaker Girja Shanker Pandey etc are now with SP. The alleged murder of criminal Vikas Dubey in Kanpur has no takers from Brahmin Samaj but his daughter-in-law Khushi Dubey, who was recently married was also thrown into jail, is what has perturbed the Brahmin Samaj, and this grouse is what the Brahmins find in Yogi Adityanath, who the Brahmins consider, as a symbol of Rajput/Thakur supremacy as both these Upper Caste Hindu factions have been civilizational rivals.
Brahmins are also not to let forget the killing of five Brahmins in Unchahar (Rae Bareli), within months of Yogi Adityanath swearing-in to office in 2017. The disrespect which BJP run Adityanath gave to late Upendra Shukla (Brahmin) in Gorakhpur has also finally led his widow, Subhavati Shukla and sons to join SP and she is also to contest elections. In Gorakhpur, the home town of Yogi Adityanath, the traditional politics is in between Gorakhnath Math run by Rajputs and Brahmin politician (late)Hari Shanker Tiwari. Both of his sons today sit with SP. Even a sitting BSP MP Ritesh Pandey’s (Ambedkar Nagar) father -Rakesh Pandey has joined SP.
BJP has now tried to put some cosmetic changes for Brahmins, by according Durga Shanker Mishra, a retired IAS to the rank of Chief Secretary, but there are also all-out effort to name AK Sharma, again a retired bureaucrat, as the next BJP CM of UP. Thus, Yogi Adityanath therefore is not to hold any chance for a repeat in office.
How BJP strategy in terms of grooming Backwards has boomeranged despite the titular face of Keshav Prasad Maurya could be accessed by the massive-protests against him in his own constituency Sirathu on January 22, as if he was not carrying his security he was sure to have been manhandled. The once social-engineering propounded by RSS ideologue, Govind Acharya around the demolition of Babri Masjid, by courting Backward Lodhs, Kurmis, Mauryas etc is now falling apart, as in 2017 it was internally signaled that Keshav Prasad Maurya would be the CM and Swami Prasad Maurya was courted on the same lines, while
Brahmin/Thakur/Bania/Kayastha and non-Yadav and non-Jatavs were aligned to see BJP success. The promise was spurned. This all has now fallen flat.
The way Upper Caste led BJP has totally abandoned ‘Backwards and Dalits’, in the purported 69,000 teachers recruitment scam, as what has proven to be a ‘total isolation’ of Backwards and Dalits, has dented BJP prospects. Perhaps, the long awaited ‘Caste Based Population Census’ is the call of the day and SP has promised it. BJP has termed it as unfeasible! Let’s see what all comes-up on March 10.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.