TURNING THE TABLE ...
The teeming millions, who turned out to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Parivartan Rally in Lucknow on Monday, convincingly prove that his ruthless attack on corruption and black money, beginning with demonetization, is drawing the masses of Uttar Pradesh amazingly close to BJP. The party has covered lot of ground in this poll-bound state, though some super-active brigades are busy viciously confusing the voters, especially the Muslims, over the party's "promises and planning" for the state.
An Opposition leader, who recently fell out with BSP supremo Mayawati, says: "Even as chunks of Yadav, Muslim and Dalit voters are slowly sliding towards BJP, a vicious propaganda has been floated against, what he calls "saffron party's Ram Mandir agenda", one that hurts the minority community most. Though no one from the party has raked up this issue and the Prime Minister has repeatedly focused on the need for "quick development and social cohesion" in the state, interested parties are spreading rumours of "a saffron venom on the way, on the pretext of development." It appears, however, that such a brutish campaign is no more working, especially after Modi said that "Indian Muslims would live and die for the country". He has also repeatedly said that BJP is for national unity and social harmony and "will not promote communal polarization at any cost."
While Samajwadi Party is definitely on the edge, playing on a hopeless poll wicket amid a nasty family feud that refuses to die down, BSP's frustration too is growing somewhat progressively, with the PM announcing a slew of far ameliorative schemes for Dalit and other marginalized families. These indigent, poverty-stricken people now believe that the flow of funds from the Modi govt and its numerous altruistic policies, aided by the state-level promised programmes to lift the poor from the morass of poverty, alone will help them. With this in mind, they want BJP to return to power in UP after a long gap of 14 years.
Some even say Mayawati is feeling shocked over her once-solid vote bank being crucially broken by Modi's big-ticket offers. She has already earned a bad name since the time dozens of BSP cadres realised that she spares no one when it comes to collecting hefty money for the tickets she distributes for parliamentary and state-level elections. An anguished, terribly bruised Dalit leader pointedly asks: " Why did Behenji deposit so much scrapped money into the accounts of her brother and the party to turn that white on the last days of December? Why was the money not deposited directly into the party account, if that came through donations? Clearly, she has been making money illegally for her relatives in the party's name." This traumatized leader is not just one, thousands like him are said to be deserting BSP this time.
Ostensibly keeping this in mind and for winning sizable Muslims to her side, Mayawati has given 97 tickets to Muslims, up from 61 in 2007 and 85 in 2012. Dalits, constituting her most trusted vote bank, are naturally feeling slighted getting lesser weight on BSP's list with just 87 seats reserved for SCs. Thus, she is tactically playing her key card on the crucial Muslim community that accounts for 19 per cent of the state's population. She knows a major section of Dalits, constituting roughly 21 per cent of UP's population, is leaving her company this time to join the BJP bandwagon, lured by PM's promises. She feels since the minority community is now damn- frustrated with the goings-on in the Samajwadi Party, it's time to get better of the situation.
The real pain of both the regional parties, SP and BSP, emanates from the Prime Minister winning the masses' praise because of his relentless attack of corruption and black money. He is taking his no-nonsense message to the people that the corrupt rich, who managed to corner the nation's wealth for years, either as politicians, bureaucrats, business honchos or others, employing dishonest means, need to be hauled up and handed down exemplary punishments much beyond the seizure of their unaccounted wealth. He is exposing this wily political class that arrogated the authority to misuse public money and passed on just 'doles and crumbs' to the people, that too keeping a greedy eye on their vote banks.
PM's focus on the sustained war on black money, need of communal harmony and strong administration seems to have finally touched the people's hearts. Even Muslims who traditionally have had doubts about the saffron party, are now listening to Modi who invites them to have faith in his words and promises. He tells them a BJP govt in the state will take care of everyone, more particularly the poor, Dalits and the minority communities. This is convincingly reflected in his poor-friendly schemes announced on December 31. One singular indication of Modi's growing popularity comes from the people's travails who have been standing in long, serpentine queues in front of banks for 53 days now, in the wake of the money crunch, which has been criminally caused by corrupt, unscrupulous elements after notebandi. Continued recovery of hoarded money, running into hundreds of crores has, in fact, proved PM's credentials and more and more people are conclusively turning Modi supporters. Clearly, this time around, it's BJP's chance in UP.
In his massive 'Parivartan' rally at Lucknow on Monday, PM slammed the opposition parties for criticising demonetisation and other policies rolled out by the govt for the welfare of the poor citizens. Without naming anyone, he said these parties were stuck in their bid to do dynasty politics, while others were trying to hide their black money. He was particularly anguished, saying: "The Opposition parties say remove Modi, I say remove black money. Now the public has to decide whom they will support...BJP wants development for everyone, for those who are with us, and also for those who are against us." Will then the saffron party have the last laugh?