‘Rampur, Azamgarh By-polls Prove Voter’s Trust In CM Yogi’

Ashok Vishnoi, BJP’s district general secretary of Rampur, UP, says days of dynastic politics in Uttar Pradesh are over. Here, in his own words:

The BJP is overwhelmed with the results of recent by-polls in Uttar Pradesh. We have wrested the two Lok Sabha seats of Rampur and Azamgarh which were once considered the pocket borough of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan.

The victory has sent a message – by and large – that nothing is permanent in politics. And any political change can only be brought by tireless working for janata, the people, the electorate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave us a mantra: Thakna nahi hai, rukna nahi hai (Forget the fatigue, work without a break). And following his advice, the BJP cadre in Rampur has rolled the dice in our favour.

While Azam Khan was not at his venomous best, having drawn lessons from Election Commission action earlier, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh thought it would be a cakewalk. Little did they realise that things have changed under Yogi Adityanath’s rule. The BJP has given them a rude shock for their complacency and laidback attitude.

Chief Minister Adityanathji, along with a team of 16 ministers, made it a point to reach out to every nook and corner of the constituency, and made the electorate aware about his work and future plans, coupled with the near absence of the so-called ‘entitled rulers’ of Rampur, turned the tide in BJP favour.

ALSO READ: ‘Yogi Didn’t Change Policemen, He Changed Policing’

The by-poll results have once again proved that the people have faith in Yogi Adityanathji and Narendra Modiji. It is not only the victory of our candidates but the victory of BJP’s ethics and work culture.

Another thing which the results have thrown up is that caste politics and appeasement policies are fading away. The voter has woken up. The victory (both in Rampur and Azamgarh) has sent a message loud and clear: blocks of Muslim-Yadav, Pandits, OBCs, SCs, and STs are a passé. If you want to win, you need to first win their hearts and address to their concerns. It was not a fight of Lodhis, Jatavs, Yadavs, Muslims and others this time. It was about the people and their basic needs.

The voter knew who would come to respond to their concerns. They would not vote for the dynasts and their representative who have done little to address their issues for years. The results are all about ridding the constituency of one-family business. After all, if their elected ‘leader’ is a serial offender and a frequent visitor to jail, who will stand by them in the times of a crisis?

At the same time, it has brought a huge responsibility on our shoulders. If the BJP leaders fail to deliver on their promises, or do not live up to the expectations of the voter, we too shall lose the plot sooner than later. We must not be complacent; we have to sustain the voters’ trust in us and that is our challenge

As told to Rajat Rai

‘Yogi Adityanath Is Not Interested In Creating Jobs For Youth’

Ashish Yadav, 24, a Samajwadi Party supporter from Bareilly, says the BJP may have won Uttar Pradesh elections by unfair means

Yogi Adityanath coming to power a second time isn’t good for the youth of Uttar Pradesh, but the youngsters supporting the BJP cannot see it for now. There are no employment opportunities in the state and youth are being made to suffer due to lack of strategy and planning on part of the government.

I would have preferred Samajwadi Party at the helm and Akhilesh Yadav in the chief minister’s office. Yadav is an educated man and understands the important of providing educational as well as employment opportunities for the youth. Given the way the pandemic has flat-lined economic development and subsequent employment opportunities, a good, compassionate and empathetic leader is the need of the hour.

I have always wanted to be a teacher, but sadly, I’m still unemployed. Either there are no vacancies or if there are any jobs, there is so much mismanagement that one feels utterly helpless. It might do well for people to remember news of the rampant irregularities in the recruitment process for 69,000 assistant teachers in Uttar Pradesh in 2020.

The BJP claims to have solid administration, but then how could mismanagement on such a large scale happen? Many people were appointed as late as December/January and I believe it kind of influenced the voting patterns of people. Wouldn’t someone feel indebted to the government for finally getting a job?

Samajwadi Party’s vote share has gone up in these elections and that is surely an encouraging thing. Sometimes I wonder if the BJP has won these elections in a fair manner. The whole EVM controversy points towards something different. BJP ko power ka ghamand ho gaya hai isliye wo janta ki choices ki izzat nahi karti (an arrogant BJP couldn’t care less about the people’s mandate).

ALSO READ: ‘Yogi Can Break Our Bones, Not Resolve’

However, it is important to note that the local leader (MLA) is as important as the Chief Minister. For, they understand the ground reality and are the link between the common man and the CM. Many people say that during Samajwadi Party’s tenure the crime rate was high and Yogi has managed to bring it down. But are the rules of law being followed? Are we going to turn into a society that forgets the context and doesn’t take into account the larger picture?

I admit that the Samajwadi Party needs to strengthen its administration but I believe that its heart is in the right place and the leadership at top understands the concerns of the common man.

There are many BJP leaders who consider themselves superior to the people they represent and are adept at pointing towards the mistakes of others, whenever a problem is pointed out. The former minister of basic education, Satish Chandra Dwivedi, hasn’t been very sensitive towards the needs of the students or teachers at the primary level. I hope the new education minister does better work.

I am also happy about the fact that Akhilesh Yadav has resigned from his Lok Sabha seat as it will help him to focus on local/state politics better. That is the need of the hour and I can see a better future under the Samajwadi Party. It is a welcome step and Samajwadi Party just needs to strengthen its communication skills.

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

‘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.

Who Is Next On BJP’s Radar?

Forget the Congress and Jyotiraditya Scindia drama. The Congress already seems to be in political ICU facing last rites having been crushed by BJP’s Congress-Mukt campaign. The next on the BJP’s predatory game are the regional parties. There is much nervous ness within the smaller regional parties as loyalties among their members are being tested.  

The members of the smaller parties are easier to “manage” and more susceptible to allurements and pressure tactics generally employed to “win” over vulnerable opponents. The saffron party made a beginning in this direction last year when four MPs from the Telugu Desam Party and three from the Samajwadi Party switched loyalties to the BJP. However, the regional parties can expect to feel the heat once the BJP leadership is satisfied that it has succeeded in its mission of decimating the Congress.

ALSO READ: Hindutva In West Bengal

The immediate provocation for engineering these defections is to push up the BJP’s tally in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have a majority. At the same time, the saffron party is also busy toppling state governments as it did in Karnataka last year and is currently in the process of bringing down the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. 

The BJP felt cheated when it was prevented from coming to power in Karnataka in 2018 when the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) teamed up to form the government. The BJP had since then been waiting for an opportunity to get back at the Congress-JD(S) combine. It eventually met with success last year when sixteen MLAs from the Congress and the JD (S) resigned and crossed over to the BJP, enabling it to form the government in the Southern state.

In Madhya Pradesh, the drama unfolded when former Congress minister Jyotiraditya Scindia decided to switch sides when he found himself being sidelined by his party rivals – chief minister Kamal Nath and senior leader Digvijaya Singh. Denied political space in his home state and a Rajya Sabha seat by the Congress, Scindia chose to walk out along with his supporters. Sixteen Congress MLAs have sent in their resignations and were airlifted by the BJP to Bengaluru where they have been sequestered in a luxury resort.

ALSO READ: Rahul’s Return To Cong Will Harm Party

At the same time, the Congress is facing trouble in Gujarat where five MLAs have put in their papers, jeopardizing the party’s chances of winning two Rajya Sabha seats in the March 26 election. The Congress has since been struggling to keep its remaining legislators safe.

These developments are predictably being followed closely by the regional parties which realise that they are next on the BJP’s hit list. The Samajwadi Party and the Telugu Desam Party have already lost seven MPs to the saffron party and they don’t know what awaits them in the coming days. With West Bengal assembly polls due next year, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has reason to worry. As it is, a number of Trinamool members had crossed over to the BJP in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha election and the party has every reason to believe the BJP will pull out all stops to weaken Mamata Banerjee before the assembly polls.

Moreover, regional parties feel that the weakening of the Congress and the emergence of a unipolar polity will hit them hard. Although these parties have been battling the Congress in their respective states, there is also a realization that if the grand old party faces extinction, the possibility of putting together an anti-BJP opposition front will become more difficult. Any such grouping necessarily needs the Congress to anchor it. However, if the Congress is rendered incapable of playing that role, it will become so much more difficult for the regional parties to mount a combined offensive against the all-powerful BJP because there will be no nucleus around which the parties can coalesce.

And this will make the regional parties more vulnerable to the BJP’s predatory moves. These parties will then have a choice of playing second fiddle to the BJP or facing erosion in its ranks. This situation suits the BJP as its leaders privately admit that they find it easier to deal with regional parties because they are “ideologically flexible” and purely focused on the interests of their respective states. Consequently, they can be co-opted with the lure of Central grants and special projects as regional leaders are made to realise the benefits of keeping the Centre on their right side. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh chief ministers Naveen Patnaik and Jagan Mohan Reddy have understood this well as their parties extend full support to the Modi government and are not inclined to rock the boat at the Centre.

Regional parties, especially the smaller ones, often stand to lose their identity and their political space if they throw their lot with the larger national party. The Uttar Pradesh-based Apna Dal is a case in point. The BJP wooed the party and even gave a ministerial berth to its leader Anupriya Patel in order to get the support of the Patels in the electorally-important Hindi heartland state of Uttar Pradesh. But now that the Patels have shown a preference for the saffron party, Apna Dal and Patel now find themselves sidelined in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

From all accounts, it appears the regional parties face tough times ahead. BJP the predator is on the hunt and they appear to be easy game after Congress.