‘Yogi Wants To Divide & Rule, But We All Want Bijli, Sadak, Pani’

Zeeshan Alvi, 30, a Block Development Council member in Baramau (Kanpur), says Yogi’s poll campaign whitewashed good work of SP Govt and brainwashed people on communal lines

I can say with confidence that a huge number of Muslims have invested their trust in Samajwadi Party and its leadership in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest Muslim population. As per records nearly 79% Muslims voted for SP in the recently concluded Assembly elections. You can also say that a pro-SP vote can be counted as a vote against the divisive politics of the BJP.

It is true that more Muslims were killed in Muzaffarnagar riots under SP rule as compared to the BJP rule, but the constant fear of being lynched or discriminated against was not there. The 80-20 factor did play a major role in these elections. People have been divided along religious lines. Perhaps they will understand the futility of this when they face difficulty in basic issues such as education, employment and other amenities.

Akhilesh Yadav has always given premium to education and employment and finding solutions to problems that plague us now, rather than talking about the past. According to me, the BJP has already begun preparing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and The Kashmir Files is the first stepping stone. BJP is about righting wrongs of the past while we need a future-oriented leadership.

Having said that, other parties should learn planning and strategy from the BJP, just having good intentions for the public will not work if it is not advertised to the public. Look at BJP, they put so much effort into advertising. Even the stadium that CM Yogi Adityanath took his oath in, was built by the Akhilesh Yadav government. People have short term memory about the development work.

Alvi says BJP has started preparing for the next Lok Sabha elections

Muslims chose the SP even over Owaisi-led AIMIM because we want development and inclusiveness. We want someone who can understand all sections of society and to me Akhilesh Yadav is an able leader. Many people say that the crime rate has come down under Yogi Adityanath. I believe the crime rate was under control during SP’s reign too. Just that they didn’t tom-tom about their work.

ALSO READ: Yogi Is Not Interested In Creating Jobs For Youth

The UP electorate rejected almost every one else apart from BJP and SP. But I would say SP won its seats without playing divisive politics. I feel BJP has brainwashed the janata into believing we are different, but deep down we are all the same: we all want bijli, sadak, pani, education, jobs etc. Let’s hope people will open their eyes by 2024.

I hope local leaders like us will be able to bring about change, be it an independent candidate like me or those belonging to any party. I have actively been involved in politics since my college days and have good understanding of the ground reality.

People will soon tire of issues like the hijab controversy or any such thing which divides them and I hope that in the next Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, SP will fare even better than this year and the politics of hatred will be defeated. I rue the fact that no MLA from Kanpur has been given a ministerial berth in the Yogi cabinet, despite it being such an important constituency.

As told to Yog Maya Singh

‘Yogi Govt Tactics Can Break Samajwadis’ Bones, Not Our Resolve’

Dilip Kumar Pandey, 27, president of Samajwadi Student Association, Mau, alleges that BJP won Uttar Pradesh by polarising people and manipulating EVMs

I have been associated with the Samajwadi Party for the past 10 years. I had joined the movement when I was just 18. A year after joining the party, in 2012, it formed the government in Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav ji. In those five years, he brought major developments in the state.

But all his development works were undone when the BJP came to power. The state has been set back by at least 25 years in terms of progress. In this election, we tried our best to win the people’s trust. We aimed to bring back the glory to the state.

In our manifesto, we focused on youths, education, jobs and farmers. We wanted to corner the government on these issues in which they failed badly.

And the response we got during election rallies and roadshows was immense. A sea of the crowd that was turning up to listen to Akhilesh ji was the vindication of his popularity and the change people wanted to see.

ALSO READ: ‘Women Safety Worsoned Under Yogi Rule In UP’

We tried our best to win the elections but we failed. Probably, the BJP was able to polarise people on Hindu-Muslim issues. Or they managed to manipulate the EVMs. I don’t see any consolidated reason that made us lose the elections. I also seriously doubt the neutrality of the election commission. The elections are no more fair in this country. The entire country witnessed how EVMs were illegally ferried in lorries and were captured by our workers. The BJP has manipulated the entire system.

But, this failure has not broken the SP workers rather strengthened us. We are Samajwadis. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but they will not be able to crush our determination. We work among the people and for the people. It’s because of our continuous efforts, the party performed very well in the elections.

Our seats have gone up from 47 to 125. In 39 seats, which we lost, the vote margin was less than 2,000. Similarly, there were around 90 seats where the margin was less than 5,000 votes. The vote share of the party also rose from 22% to 32%. If you consider the postal ballots, 51.5 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the SP alliance.

We are now preparing for the general elections in 2024. The BJP has failed in every respect in governance at the Centre also. They can’t control inflation, they don’t have any foreign policy, China has intruded into our territory and this list goes on…

We believe that our leader Akhilesh Yadav ji will have a bigger role to play in the fight against the BJP at a country level.

Akhilesh ji has a vision for this country. When you meet him, you’ll become his fan. We believe that he can pull this country out of the current problems.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Bad News Awaits Yogi In Uttar Pradesh

As the dance of democracy rolls on in Uttar Pradesh, it seems bad news has come to stay for the BJP, even as the assembly polls in the spring of 2022 might signal symbolic signs of which way the wind might blow in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. Indeed, for both Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi, the writing on the wall is loud and clear, and, surely, achche din seem nowhere in sight for them, or the BJP.

The seasoned journalists who were predicting only a depletion of 100 seats for the BJP, have now come down to 150. Apparently, certain bureaucrats in the state are calling up Akhilesh Yadav, sensing the mood on the ground. A district magistrate in Western UP, reportedly, refused to order a repoll in certain booths in a constituency despite the ardent pleas of a BJP heavyweight. These are all markers blowing in the wind, like the chronicle of a tale foretold.

While his father remains entrenched in the Union cabinet, despite the angst and anger of the farmers, the release on bail of the principle accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri murder case, with crackers etc to welcome him, has sent waves of disgust and dismay across the rural landscape in the area. Modi’s rally out here therefore might not change the simmering mood on the ground.

Besides, old memories have come to haunt the BJP. The burning pyre of a young Dalit girl in Hathras, with the UP police barricading the site, is etched in the mind of the locals, especially the Dalits. She was brutally assaulted and raped, and her family was not allowed to be part of the funeral of their own daughter. The media was not allowed to report, and, opposition leaders like Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi were stopped at the Delhi-UP border. With massive protests and nation-wide outrage spreading all across, the Yogi regime was compelled to allow the media and politicians access to the mourning family.

Now, Dalits in and around Hathras, are determined to teach Yogi a lesson. Not only here, with Mayawati having disappeared from the scene, Dalits across UP are unhappy with the BJP. In Western UP, anyway, Dalits have consolidated themselves with their Jat and Muslim brothers, in the formidable SP-RLD electoral alliance. The BJP leaders are not even able to visit their own constituencies, or else they have to face the wrath of the farmers. The confluence of Har Har Mahadev and Allah-u-Akbar at the massive Muzaffarnagar rally in the recent past, has all but eliminated the Hindutva card. Polarisation and hate politics just cannot work in Western UP anymore.

There is a noticeable paradigm shift in terms of the dominant BJP narrative in UP. Gone is the belligerent aggression and the strident Hindutva overdrive. The divisive discourse is all but over because communal politics is just not selling anymore in the Hindi heartland.

People have long memories. Bad, sad, bitter memories have a long shelf life. The toxic taste of demonetisation and GST lingers in the back-lanes like ghost stories. The ravaged economic lives of the small-scale industry and petty traders stalk the by-lanes. There is mass unemployment and the economy has gone for a toss. People want development, a better life, food to eat, health and education, jobs for the young. Surely, they don’t want hate politics.

Poor people are not able to have two square meals a day. Poor mothers are eating one meal a day. Women seem to have disappeared from the unorganised work force. The pandemic and lockdown has taken its toll on the poor.

ALSO READ: ‘Why I Don’t Want Yogi To Be CM Again’

The Khatik community of Banda district in Bundelkhand, who backed the BJP in the past, are now terribly disappointed. Poor Khatiks who pick up sand since eternity, for a living, have to spend Rs 200 per day to feed their donkeys. From where will they get this kind of money? ‘‘Badlaav hoga,’’ (there will be change), said a woman to Chal Chitra Abhiyan, an independent news channel run by locals in Western UP.

In the village of Utarva in Banda, according to the news channel, Dalits want jobs. Doors have locks in this village because there is mass migration in search of livelihood. The nomadic community here, who voted for the BJP last time, will not toe the line anymore.

Talking of sand, the memories of the dead buried on the sandy shores of the Ganga, along with scores of dead bodies floating in the river, during the deadly Delta wave in the summer of 2021, haunts the people. People remember the dead cremated in public spaces and the hoardings put up hurriedly in Lucknow by the UP government to block photographers and journalists.

Plus, the memories of the anti-CAA protests have come back. The Supreme Court has recently ordered that the UP government should refund the damages worth crores recovered from the persons accused of destroying public property during the peaceful protests. Several activists, including women, were trapped in false cases.

Besides, the Brahmins, who can sense power from a distance, are waiting and watching. They will certainly vote for the winning alliance. In any case, bereft of political and bureaucratic power, they have been deeply disturbed by the unilateral power enjoyed by the Thakurs under the Yogi dispensation. Across UP, from Lucknow and Varanasi to Saharanpur and Meerut, the disgruntled Brahmin community might mark a decisive shift against the BJP in these assembly polls.

Political observers believe that at least 35 per cent of the BJP support base will shift this time. The backward caste vote base has all but aligned with the SP. Combined with the formidable Yadav-Muslim alliance, this seems a win-win scenario for Akhilesh Yadav. That heavyweights like Swamy Prasad Maurya, a powerful backward caste leader, four times minister with a daughter as MP, has aligned with Akhilesh, is a sign of the times. Like those bureaucrats, he too has sensed the shifting mood on the ground.

The Muslim factor too is crucial. Earlier, sidelining the Muslims, not pitching a single Muslim candidate, and ground level polarization would consolidate the Hindutva votes across the Hindu community. Now no more. This will lead to the Muslim community uniting as one against the BJP. With the backward castes, a section of Dalits and Brahmins too joining the Yadav alliance, the BJP is on a sticky wicket.

The ban on hijab in the schools of Karnataka has shocked the nation. Even BJP supporters can’t understand why school girls with backpacks, chasing dreams, should be unnecessarily targeted. There are reports that there is deep resentment within the BJP, including among Union cabinet ministers, against the move. The ban, which seemed a symbolic sign to polarize in UP, seemed to have boomeranged.

With schoolgirls from the Hindu, Christian and other communities, holding hands with the Muslim schoolmates in hijab, marching in solidarity, hand to hand, a new wave of unity in diversity has brought cheer to the nation. And this is the cheer and optimism which will be blowing in the wind in the state of UP in the spring of 2022. Resurrecting the chronicle of a tale foretold in the summer of 2022.

‘Polarisation And Pandemic Will Dominate UP Elections’

Danial Faraz, 26, a lecturer in Uttar Pradesh, considers Yogi a better leader than Akhilesh Yadav and warns against hate-mongers like Waseem Rizvi (aka Jitendra N Tyagi)

What a time to be voting in! In the middle of the pandemic. The virus has kept everyone on their toes, and depending on the severity of the Omicron variant, the number of people attending political rallies can go up and down. Which is to say that the situation and its handling by leaders might play an important role in deciding which way the wind blows.

So we will have to take each month as it comes until elections are due in India’s most populous state. After the virus, it is polarisation that can sway the votes, and polarising people is something that BJP and its leaders know how to do really well. One would have thought that after the Ram Mandir Bhoomi Poojan in August 2019, there would be no more issues on which people could be polarised, but that is not the case. Polarisation continues and people give in.

If you were to ask me whose tenure I found better between Akhilesh Yadav & Yogi Adityanath as CM, as an individual, I would say Yogi Adityanath. Even though Akhilesh Yadav started the Laptop Distribution Scheme for the youth and the Dial 100 scheme, there were many things that were left to be desired.

ALSO READ: BJP Has Done Good Work In UP, But Polarised Society Too

The Muzaffarnagar riot took place under his watch and people were not brought to task. I feel Akhilesh Yadav has become greedy for power like many others and forgotten to carve his own separate way. There was a lot of biradariwad (nepotism). Yadavs were preferred over efficient people in the administration. I don’t know how his alliances with the smaller parties or independent candidates will work, but he needs to step up his presence.

Faraz considers Asaduddin Owaisi (right) a strong contestant in UP elections

Under Yogi Adityanath, the crime rate has definitely come down. If we don’t go into the means used to bring the crime rate down, then we can say that the lowering of crime rate has proved beneficial to many. One work of Yogi Adityanath government that I really like is the Scholarship Schemes for graduates where 60% marks is the set criteria for receiving aid and students have been receiving them consistently for the past 4.5 years.

I am not scared of living in UP, himmat se kam lena chahiye. Take life each day as it comes. I believe in the Indian Constitution and also believe that a good leader is one who teaches us the Constitution (as in our rights and duties) better.

I feel Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) is the right leader. Many people think he is a polarising figure as well, but I don’t believe that to be true. Just because he takes care of the Muslim community doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for Hindus. There are Hindus in his party. If his party’s results in Bihar elections are anything to go by (a nearly 25% success rates) then he should be able to make headway in UP as well. Many people think he is an outsider and would not have an understanding of local issues, but I believe deep down our issues are more or less the same, given that we are all humans.

It is leaders like Waseem Rizvi aka Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi who do major harm to the whole political landscape. People like him are mere opportunists, ready to go to any length to remain relevant, and the youth needs to be especially weary of turncoat leaders.

I believe youngsters should give weight to the party leader, but also take note of what kind of work their local leader has done. One should give importance to individuals over party. Choose a leader who is good for you.

Generation Shift In Indian Politics

Election 2019 Will Witness Generational Change

This Lok Sabha elections, 500 million young people will vote in the country, 15 million of them for the first time

This had to happen, sooner than later. India is used to politicians furthering their social and economic clout while professing to be “in service of the people.” Now, several private institutions are producing professionally trained politicians. “Serving public” may soon be like “customer care.”

Khadi, the homespun cotton that Indian politicians generally don is optional for the young wannabe with varying political beliefs prescribed kurta –pajama-jacket uniforms. They are attending training courses that will fetch them degrees, diplomas and certificates at convocation ceremonies.

The Parliament’s Bureau of Parliamentary Research and Studies runs an internship course for the young. But now a plethora of private institutions has come up to train the young to ‘connect’ and ‘engage’ with the people. Concept of “public service” may not be prominent in the syllabi, but thankfully, the Indian Constitution is.

They charge between Rs 300,000 to Rs 1.6 million per course, promising to make “better leaders.” The corporate touch is inescapable and so is the nudge from some of the political parties who want to “catch them young.”

It is not difficult to see that besides electoral politics, the graduate can become a lobbyist, a counselor, a PR man or an analyst. These are among the areas of interest for business houses, investors, visiting suppliers and deal-makers and foreign embassies. Or, join a NGO.

Whether this kind of education and training could produce a politician willing to get hands dirty, dine with the poor in their homes and join the rough and tumble of party affairs would seem seriously doubtful to an old-timer. But if there are cyber warriors, why not have cyber politicians? Haven’t harnessing knowledge, skill and technology, and using sociology and psephology, produced strategy room analyses, surveys and Exit polls for nearly four decades now?

This has not ended, but has slashed the role of the hands-on reporter who hits the election trail, talking to the tea vendor or interviewing a bus and rail rider to fathom the ‘ground’.  As this reporter gets tech-savvy the interviewees, too, are getting smart, saying what the TV cameras want. The current campaign is hugely being driven by the social media.  

This is inevitable as India urbanizes, educates and acquires economic heft. Political activity has evolved although it requires moving out in the blazing sun to a rough rural terrain. The cyber-boys and girls would need that at least during elections and when mass movements are launched.

Going by past experience, with each Lok Sabha election, roughly a third of the 543 lawmakers are replaced or are defeated and new ones ring in. Besides growing use of technology, the current run-up to the elections is a hugely transformational exercise. To assess it, one has to jostle with personal views, political preferences and professional objectivity required of a scribe.  

Out, at least from the LoK Sabha elections are  Lal Krishna Advani and  Murli Manohar Joshi two of the founders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Appointed ‘margadarshaks’ (advisors) five years ago, they are now, as a television debater tellingly put it, ‘darshaks’, just onlookers.

Three other Ram temple movement leaders who witnessed demolition of the historic Babri Mosque in Ayodhya city in 1992 – Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh (now Rajasthan Governor) and Vinay Katiar — are not among the contestants. The tumultuous event they led and much that happened in its aftermath have seriously challenged the idea of an inclusive India. How these five will face prolonged court trial for their role is best left to the future.

Three scores of BJP lawmakers have been changed. The process began in 2014 with an age bar of 75. Modi denied ministerial berths to Advani and Joshi. Now the generational shift in the party has reached the next level.

Sentiments apart and even discounting speculation over lack of personal equations among other reasons for their exclusion, the BJP needs to fight incumbency. All this is inevitable in India that is seen with justification as a gerontocracy.

This is also true of other parties. Elders have been forced to be flexible as they tackle pressures from young aspirants, many of them family members – even grandchildren. Former premier H D Deve Gowda and Sharad Pawar have had to change their Lok Sabha constituencies to accommodate young wards. Her retirement plans well-known, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has returned to the election arena.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, having lost control of Samajwadi Party to son Akhilesh, has accepted the same party nomination. This is after the perennial prime minister-in-waiting bid farewell to parliament and surprised everyone by wishing a victorious return to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Times are changing.

Part of this change is the idea of crowd-funding of election, not exactly new, is attracting the young. Kanhaiya Kumar, former leader of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, has adopted it. Parties and their nominees unlikely to be funded by moneybags may follow him now and in future. This ensures public participation.   

Young leaders are emerging even as ‘win-ability’ compulsions force them to field the old. While Akhilesh has won the family turf war, acrimony has surfaced in the other Yadav clan in Bihar between two sons of jailed Lalu Prasad. The two northern states are crucial for the Opposition alliances to challenge Modi/BJP.

Rahul has found state satraps scuttling Congress’ alliances with other parties in Delhi, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. His gambit of contesting a second seat in Kerala, while boosting his party in the South where he hopes to do better than the BJP, has antagonized the communists, already angry with him for failure to align in West Bengal.

It is difficult to blame any single party. But many have seriously wondered if the Congress as the biggest opposition entity has frittered away the opportunity to show accommodation to others, thus conceding space to the ruling alliance.

The once-reticent Rahul’s in-your-face attacks on Modi have won him admirers and expectedly, counter-attacks from BJP and its social media acolytes.  In contrast, sister Priyanka’s striking presence and a conversational style appeal to listeners.

Some issues are out from the BJP’s armour. At his rallies, Modi doesn’t promise to build Ram temple anymore; nor does he defend government’s policies. It’s all hyperbole.

And some issues are passé for both sides. None talks of corruption, Rupee’s demonetization, triple talaq for Muslim women and lynching of Muslims by cow-protecting vigilantes. The opposition is silent on the Rafale aircraft deal. Call it prioritizing – or opportunism.

Overall, the opposition has fallen short in forging credible state level alliances, leave alone a national one. It is a difficult task given conflicting ambitions and support bases when transfer of votes from one party to another is not easy. The opposition does not have a tall leader who can parley across the parties.  It is advantage BJP.

With opposition alliances in many states gone awry, analysts say there is lack of clarity in opposition strategy and eventually, too much will depend on post-polls give-and-take. In 2004, that had helped the Congress race past a shocked BJP. But now, BJP is the predominant force led by the most formidable team of Modi and party chief Amit Shah, geared 24×7 into poll-mode, with full intent to retain power at any cost.

But with incumbency factor looming large, the numbers may elude Modi as of now. To get the numbers, Modi is trying hard to build sentiment, hoping to trigger a wave.

This explains his below-the-belt rhetoric. When critics are called “anti-national” and asked to “go to Pakistan” and the neighbour itself, accorded undue, exaggerated place in domestic discourse and is predicted to “die its own death,” one wonders what message electioneering in the world’s largest democracy is giving to others.

(The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com )

]]>