‘The Hindu vote is not united’

‘Identity politics is gaining ground in Uttar Pradesh.’
‘Every community, however small it maybe, knows that if they remain united, they will have power.’
‘Today they are making big political parties kneel before them.’

With about 12 weeks to go for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is visiting the state almost twice a week.

He is either laying a foundation stone for a new project in the state or coming to see or inaugurate the finished projects launched by his Bharatiya Janata Party’s government at the Centre and in the state as well as its predecessors.

  • Modi’s Project Spree Ahead of UP Polls

However, opinion polls suggest that this time, it will not be a smooth sailing for the Bharatiya Janata Party despite the development work carried out by its government in UP and at the Centre in the last five years.

What’s more worrying for the BJP is that Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav is drawing huge crowds at his rallies, indicating that he will give the BJP a tough fight this time.

In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP won 312 out of 403 assembly seats in the state by trouncing the SP, which was reduced to 47 seats.

“Today in Uttar Pradesh all big parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BJP, even the Bahujan Samaj Party are out to woo smaller parties as they know Hindu votes are getting divided,” Professor Sanjay Gupta at the department of political science, Lucknow University, tells Rediff.com‘s Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

The second of a multi-part interview:

  • Part I: ‘Modi’s credentials are at stake in UP’

Why this sudden love for Akhilesh Yadav? Why is he gaining confidence among the people of UP all of a sudden?

It is not all of a sudden. I think some anti-incumbency sets in.

If a government is in its fifth year tenure, one can see anti-incumbency.

The same anti-incumbency price was paid by Akhilesh Yadav in his fifth year rule when he was the chief minister. Mayawati too paid the same price of anti-incumbency in 2012.

Yogi too is facing the same problem.

People always want more and more. There is no limit to people’s aspirations and desires.

They are okay with whatever they get from the government; at the same time, when they don’t get something, they have a grudge (against the government) and remain dissatisfied.

Is it the reason the BJP is polarising voters by talking about Shivaji versus Aurangzeb or, for that matter, making this a Hindu versus Muslim election?

This is not happening all of a sudden. These things have been in the BJP’s agenda for the last three decades.

If you recall, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya (founders of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which eventually became the BJP) or even Atal Bihari Vajpayee… they all used to say same things on Hindu issues.

It is not new.

Today, whatever is happening in Ayodhya is because of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Both the parties fought tooth and nail in order to prove their claim in this case and, today, this issue is settled.

People are living calmly and peacefully in Uttar Pradesh now.

If the situation is calm in UP, why do we read in news reports that the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are getting lynched by mobs?

No one can defend lynching; it is a horrible crime. And it is for this precise reason that the BJP’s figures will come down.

A few incidents have given them a bad name. These are very condemnable acts.

Narendra Modi spoke about ‘shamshan (Hindu crematory ground)’ and ‘kabristan (Muslim burial ground)’ before the 2017 elections. This time, he is talking about Shivaji versus Aurganzeb. Why does he need to polarise voters?

This is not a welcome thing, even on the part of the prime minister of India.

It is very unfortunate. It is prohibited under the Constitution of India to fight elections on caste and creed.

The Election Commission must see to this.

Unfortunately, politicians rake up these issues during elections. Modi, too, is a politician, after all.

He is putting up a brave and moral face by talking about clean politics, but it is difficult not to get into this.

When Akhilesh was chief minister, he made the Haj House in UP and repaired graveyards. The clergy of mosques were paid. People were least bothered about these issues because all they wanted was peace in society.

But then as Akhilesh wants Muslim votes, it looks like the BJP is only interested in getting Hindu votes by polarising voters.

The Hindu vote is not united. It is never solid and is divided into caste.

Today, Om Prakash Rajbhar is carrying away a sizeable population with him (of his caste).

He is in alliance with Akhilesh Yadav and the BJP knows that he will be able to influence the outcome of elections in at least 30 seats.

Today in Uttar Pradesh all big parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BJP, even the Bahujan Samaj Party are out to woo smaller parties as they know Hindu votes are getting divided.

Be it Nishad, Rajbhar or for that matter the Patel vote of Apna Dal or the Musahar community of Benares.

Identity politics is gaining ground in Uttar Pradesh.

Every community, however small it maybe, knows that if they remain united, they will have power.

Today they are making big political parties kneel before them.

They know how to demand flesh for themselves.

The BJP may be a big party and won big in the last two elections headed by Prime Minister Modi, but yet he has to wander through gullies and bylanes of each and every city of UP.

These smaller parties were one time irrelevant. They had no price for their party as they were not able to get votes.

The situation on the ground has changed now as they are making big politicians bow before them.

  • Part III: ‘Things are not good for the BJP’

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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