All eyes are set on the political turf of most populous and electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh where the biggest political wrestling of Indian democracy is going on to witness outcome of 2017 Assembly elections. The people of state are experiencing all colours of political churning and caste polarisations from all the political parties to forge caste and communal combinations besides focusing on their development plunk and highlighting the miseries caused to all sections of society as an aftermath of demonetisation of 500 and 1000 currency notes imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi all of a sudden that claimed to be surgical strike on black money and terrorism.
Modi’s decision was taken with an eye set on the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh to upset his opponent political parties as the most populous and heartland state of Indian polity was gearing up for the next assembly polls in early 2017 for 403 constituencies. The north Indian state has special place in political scene of the country as it sends 80 members to Lok Sabha and 31 members to Rajya Sabha who constitute major chunk to dominate the Indian Parliament. Nowadays all the major political players are busy in consolidation of their voters to brighten their prospects to win power, as it will set the roadmap for 2019 parliamentary elections.
Caste and communal combinations use to be determinative factors to win the polls in a passionately charged atmosphere leading to polarisation of vote at a large scale but now people are fed-up with such dispensations and well experienced that acrimonious political game to usurp power is just to befool them and such practices are not beneficial for the society. So there appears to be one and only aspiration of the people, that is -“Development with good governance” but the decision of demonetisation would have deeper impact on the election scenario as all sections of society have felt the heat of it and faced tremendous difficulties to withdraw their hard earned money from the banks and ATMs to run their lives.
It would be really difficult to foresee how the political moves dominate the poll scene but apparently there is expected to be a triangular contest among ruling Samajwadi Party-with Congress Party and others as its alliance partners and Bahujan Samaj Party would challenge the saffron forces. The haste with which the chief minister is inaugurating thousands of his running projects seems to be confirmation of an early assembly polls that could be scheduled in February, 2017. So he wants to wrap up his unfinished task and agenda to pat his back and drum up myriad achievements of his government to regain the mandate from the electorate on his developmental plans.
The Samajwadi Party that rose to power on the stance of the efforts of Akhilesh Yadav who opposed and denied party ticket in assembly elections to Mafia don D.P. Yadav. His move sent across positive signs of change across the masses about prevalent culture of glorifying leaders of criminal background in his party. The people reposed trust in young Yadav with new hope to decriminalise polity of the state as they were fed up with corruption charges against Mayawati led BSP rule, but despite his best efforts he could not cultivate his values in overall culture of his party resulting in poor show of his government on law and order front. Perhaps inherited conflicts of generational transition put his agenda back on this most fretful front of his public exposure where he suffered a lot of public criticism due to his inability to control such rowdy elements of his party who made considerable dent to his image of his governance making him vulnerable to frequent attack from the opposition parties.
Akhilesh Yadav knew that law and order front could be his weakest point as the policing of the state could not be taken away from those hands who had caste affiliations and family loyalties as he faced strong resistance from party cadre whenever he tried to take action against them. In such peculiar circumstances the idea of effective policing with the lesser involvement of human resources was promoted wherein dependence from local police persons, who often had nexus with local politicians and criminals, as their connivance in commission of crime was drastically reduced and shifted to computerised system of Dial 100 and 1090 recording the occurrence of crime. The initiative would take some time to deliver effective results as the entire policing is being supervised at the highest level from state capital through technology enabled tracking system making it accountable for speedy response.
The Muzzafarnagar riots left the scars of defeat on the face of Samajwadi Party as it was reduced from 23 members to just only five in the parliamentary elections in 2014 that paved the way to BJP to come to overwhelming majority of 73 seats due to polarisation of votes and division of secular votes. Despite all efforts Samajwadi Party could only save five family seats. The confidence of Muslim community was shattered from present government on whose strength and on the issue of corruption in NRHM during Mayawati regime, Samajwadi Party won unprecedented seats in 2012 assembly polls. Bahujan Samaj Party is making all possible efforts to bring back Muslim support by fielding more and more Muslim faces to forge Dalit-Muslim and Brahmin combination. She opposed the decision of demonetisation taken by PM Narendra Modi more aggressively in Rajya Sabha as her party collapsed flatly in the Modi wave of 2014 and could not win a single seat from Uttar Pradesh despite attracting huge crowds in her rallies.
Dynamically chasing “Hindutva” agenda in the state for a long time, the saffron political offshoot, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) have experimented all its tools, including raising Ram Temple, Love Jihad, Home Coming, Cow Vigilantism, Beef eating, Nationalism and Vandematram, but could not gain power on their plunks. At the same time their social engineering ploy is on to give upper hand to OBC leadership in the party by appointing Keshav Prasad Mourya as state BJP president sidelining Brahmin leadership for a while who use to dominate the party affairs right from the days of Atal Behari Vajpaiyee.
Samajwadi Party with Congress Party and others as its alliance partners is expected to challenge the saffron forces
On the land of poll bound Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to rake up once again the forgotten chants of “Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Jai Shri Ram” on the religious occasion of Vijayadashmi at Lucknow. It was significantly treated as a ‘birthday gift’ to his parent organisation- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which was born on “Vijayadashmi” and every disciple gives gift to its master. RSS spearheaded Ayodhya movement through its offshoot Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The process of polarisation started with temple movement helped the saffron forces to come to power led by “Sangh Parivar” at the helm of its affairs. Uttar Pradesh is noticing a lot of turn and twits in the strategy of BJP. On the latest move of demonetisation UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav commented, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is constantly shifting the goal posts. First he talked about black money and terror finance. Now they are talking different.
Government came up with in adequate preparation. People will take stock when they turn out to vote.” “Those who give pain to people, people vote them out from government,” he added.
The Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi has taken resilient position and hard posture against Modi. Addressing a rally in Mehsana Gujarat, the home district of PM Modi, he barbed the personal charges of taking bribes from Sahara Group and Birla during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat. Earlier he cornered him in parliament over his controversial decision of demonetisation and paralysed the entire session of parliament.
Modi preferred to wash away Rahul’s allegations just mocking him saying, “If he had not spoken, there would have been a big earthquake. The country would have to suffer such a big earthquake, it would not have overcome again for ten years. But it is good that he has started speaking so that possibility of an earthquake has been stalled.”
Prime Minister Modi’s biggest political gambit of demonetisation was criticised was none other than former Prime Minister and world renowned economist Dr. Manmohan Singh strongly criticised the policy of demonetisation calling it an “organised loot and legalised plunder of the economy” in Rajya Sabha on November 24, 2016.
“Prime Minister has been arguing that this is the way to curb black money, to prevent growth of forfeiture currency notes and also to help in control of terrorist finance activities. I do not disagree with these objectives. But I do want to point out this that in the process of demonetisation monumental mismanagement has been undertaken about which today there is no two opinions in the country as a whole. Even those who say that this measure will do harm or cause distress in the short term, but be in the interests of the country in the long run, should be reminded of what John Keynes said once, “In the long run all of us are dead,” Dr. Singh concluded in his pointed brief speech.
After the gap of almost a month in his constituency, Varanasi, on 22nd December, 2016, Narendra Modi countered Dr. Singh questioning that “whose inheritance of 50 percent poverty that I am carrying on? If electricity has not reached 50 percent of villages then tell me whose contribution is this? Whether I came and uprooted electricity poles or broken its wiring?” “Now tell me was he placing his report card or mine in the parliament?,” he sarcastically commented on Dr. Manmohan Singh’s dispassionate words of caution on the abrupt decision of demonetisation but preferred to be mum on the issues he raised before him on its merits.
The Congress Party that ruled the state from 1950 till Dec 1989 baring three years of Janta Party regime, has virtually no big personality who could be emerged as undisputed leader of all the faction of the party forcing the leadership to bring former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit as their CM face for UP assembly elections. The era of non-Congress government started after the decline of the congress rule led by its veteran leader Narayan Datt Tiwari in December 1989. The twenty seven years of political exile is enough time to ruin the leadership and organisational base of a party. It saw desertion of its cadre and leaders to those parities who assumed power in the state. Party suffered shifting of its traditional Muslim and Dalit voters post demolition of Babri Mosque and implementation of Mandal Commission Report.
The traditional infrastructure, considered as the biggest assets of the congress party were the freedom fighters and their families. They were associated with it with emotional bindings. Ultimately, they lost all contact with an inaccessible party high command living a mid of tightest possible high security cover. “And no self-respecting person will like to suffer humiliation at the hand of security personnel,” reacted an old congressman over its gradual decay. The Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s one month long “Kisan Yatras” raised new hopes and enthusiasm in the party cadre as drought hit farmers supported its three demands- Loan waiver, Electricity bill half and profitable support prices of their farm produces.
The decision of demonetisation and frequent references from the mouth of Prime Minister Modi comparing the role of opposition parties to save corrupt black money holders alike Pakistani Army who gives covering fire to terrorists during their infiltration into our boarders. His remarks would not only give ammunition to attack him but also pave the way to form “Mahagathbandhan” on Bihar pattern to combat BJP in coming UP assembly elections. Ruling Samajwadi Party is positioning itself for such an alliance for mutual benefits as nobody alone could beat preparations of BJP as compare to other players to muster resources post demonetisation.
Samajwadi Party Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is in a process to overcome from family feud with regard to future leadership conflicts by nominating Akhilesh Yadav as its Chief Ministerial candidate and pacifying his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav in the larger interest of their political survival as divided they would fall as both BJP president Amit Shah and BSP Supremo Mayawati target them on this count. He applauded developmental initiatives undertaken by Samajwadi government headed by his son. He inaugurated most ambitious Metro Rail projects and Agra-Lucknow Expressway as showcase of rapid development pace with which growth is being recorded in all sectors including infrastructure, industrial development, social, healthcare and power.
The assembly poll campaign of Samajwadi Party will revolve around its achievements with regard to promises it made in the party manifesto. Laptop to meritorious students, Samjwadi Pension to 45 lacs needy people and providing them medical insurance coverage, safety and respect to women, low cost housing facilities to weaker sections, old age and widow pension schemes, betterment of health services at cheaper rates and introduction of Samajwadi Ambulance services are the key features on which his populist thrust will be given. Skill development schemes and jobs to youth would be added attraction of the campaign.