‘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 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

Three Quick Takeaways From Assembly Poll Results

If you distil down the results of the five states that held assembly elections recently, there are three conclusions that could describe them best. These three facts are what will shape the future of politics and governance in India. The same three conclusions will also impact the future of three political parties.

First, it is the unabated surge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Winning Uttar Pradesh decisively by getting 255 of the 403 seats and, thus, retaining India’s most populous state does two things. It underlines how strong the party is in the northern belt, which in turn could be a pointer to its fortunes when parliamentary elections are held in 2024. It also silences critics who thought that the stock of UP’s hardliner chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, was falling. Already speculation has begun on whether Adityanath, 49, could succeed Narendra Modi, 71, as Prime Minister in the coming years.

There was a time before 2014 that many people ruled out that Modi (whose tenure as chief minister of Gujarat was controversial) could become India’s Prime Minister. As it happened, the doubters were put paid and Modi’s popularity continues to soar. Could Adityanath be waiting in the wings to succeed him? In Indian politics, as they say, anything can happen.

The second conclusion is the spectacular surge of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). There is possibly no precedent to what the party, led by Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, has pulled off by winning Punjab. No small regional party such as AAP has done that before. AAP won 92 of the 177 seats in Punjab, thereby reducing the traditional contenders — Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP, and Congress — to mere also rans. This has many ramifications.

ALSO READ: Cong Leadership Will Never Learn: Capt

It establishes that small regional parties, if they play their strategies well, can expand to other regions outside their strongholds and can prove to be formidable opponents to bigger traditional parties in their own bastion. AAP’s victory in Punjab does just that but it also catapults the party and its leader Kejriwal to the central stage. AAP will now be a force to contend with and we ought not to be surprised if prominent leaders from parties such as the Congress leave to join the AAP.

The third and least surprising conclusion is the complete rout of the Congress party, a political organisation that once reigned supreme in the country. Indeed, looking at the party’s current state, it is difficult to believe that it had ever been so strong, powerful, and at the top of India’s political pack. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress won just two seats of the 403; in Punjab it managed 18; in Goa 11 (the BJP won 20) of the 40; in Uttarakhand 19 (BJP won 47) out of 70; and in Manipur it got five (BJP won 32) of the 60 seats. The writing on the wall is clear.

The Congress, run by the Gandhi family, is facing a serious leadership crisis. This has not only meant that that the party is rudderless but it has continued to be dynastic — Rahul Gandhi, the reluctant heir to his mother and the party’s current head, Sonia Gandhi, has proved himself to be a failure several times over and yet the party’s leaders do not try to infuse new blood or revamp the way the party is run. By the time 2024 rolls in and the Lok Sabha elections are held, the Congress could get diminished even further. Its fate in the recent five-state assembly polls shows that clearly.

Weekly Update: India’s Intriguing Reaction To Ukraine Crisis; Time For Poll Results

When it comes to what is happening in Ukraine, the discourse in Indian media, among its politicians and in the noisy environment of social media is all about one thing: how the 20,000 Indians, mostly students, were being evacuated back to India as the Russian military attack there gained momentum. If your news sources were solely Indian, you’d be bombarded with information on what the government was doing to get back its citizens from what was becoming a war zone. 

The political capital to be gained from making a huge fanfare of the evacuation is obvious. Prime Minister Modi has had widely publicised interactions with Indian students who have come back home. His ministerial colleagues have chanted slogans that portray him as a sort of saviour. 

Some of his ministerial colleagues have also provided us with a bit of comic relief. The civil aviation minister, who is known more for his sense of entitlement than any modicum of humility, went to Romania where Indians fleeing Ukraine had been sheltered. The minister was ostensibly overseeing their evacuation to India but true to his traits, he launched into a bombastic speech. It was interrupted by the Romanian mayor of the city who pithily told him that it was he who had provided the fleeing Indians with food and shelter and not the minister whose job it is to take them home. The entire episode, caught on video, went viral much to the chagrin of the Indian government. 

It is not anybody’s case that during crisis situations such as the one in Ukraine governments should not put in every effort to evacuate its stranded citizens. It is their duty to do so and they should. But to use such attempts to boost the popularity of a political leader or to squeeze political benefits from such moves is in pretty poor taste. But then taste or finesse has not been the hallmark of India’s ruling regime. Instead, it has usually appalled us with its reactions and responses to developments such as the one in Ukraine. When the focus was on the evacuation project, hubristically named Operation Ganga, some political leaders criticised Indian students for going abroad to study and not stay in India.

Such loonies abound in Indian politics and public life–recently a well-known TV host who had two foreign guests on his show carried on berating one of them not realising that he was mistaking him for the other person on the show. Instead of directing his rant at the American foreign policy commentator, he aimed his high-decibel rant at an Ukrainian journalist and carried on doing it till the hapless journo could protest and set things right.

The more intriguing question about how India, its government, its political leaders and its media are handling the Ukraine crisis is about why the Indian official reaction to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has been so muted. Last week, the three other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, colloquially the Quad or QUAD, which is a strategic security dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia, urged India to join the rest of the group in condemning the aggression in Ukraine. But India hasn’t complied yet. It is among the 35 nations that have abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution against the Russian attack. 

As the world’s most populous democracy, India needs to be a bit more assertive on the global stage. In recent times, the country’s leadership has demonstrated episodic reactions to global developments. With Russia India has enjoyed favourable trade and investment relationships that date back to the Soviet era. And Russia continues to be the largest supplier of defence equipment and arms to India. But when a country like Russia is aggressive towards another, much smaller nation, is it not time for India to condemn such a move? Or is it that in the new world order, India has begun to take sides and align with a new superpower? If that is the case, there could be another corollary question: If another powerful neighbour of India–China–decides to get a bit aggressive on India’s eastern border, what kind of support does the country expect from other nations, including Russia? India should ponder that.

Time for poll results

Be prepared to be assailed by a barrage of exit polls, some of which will undoubtedly be wide of the mark. After March 7 when the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections are completed, marking an end of elections in five states–Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur–the speculation about who will win in these states will be swirling around in discussions in social media and mainstream media, of course, but also among India’s ordinary citizens. Elections are the most secular festivals in India, even as the other “real” festivals get more and more communalised. 

While it will be foolhardy to predict who is going to win in these states–even seasoned analysts quite often get their predictions wrong–it may be worth the while to keep in mind a few issues that could be important. First, in Uttar Pradesh, would the BJP win again? And if it does, would it scrape through or have a decisive victory? Also, would the highly divisive hardcore Hindutva proponent, Yogi Adityanath, get another term as chief minister? In Punjab would a relatively newcomer party, Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party manage to top the scale when the results are out? That could mark a breakthrough for its leader, Arvind Kejriwal? And then, of course, it would be interesting to see whether Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her party, the Trinamool Congress, makes any headway in Goa.  On March 10, we will know it all.

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.

‘Women Safety Hasn’t Improved, But Worsened Under Yogi’

Raveena Nijjar, a 26-year-old employee with a software group in Noida (Uttar Pradesh), says it is high timewomen safety became an electoral issue

I have been catcalled, molested and harassed at public places, not once but multiple times. This is not just my story but the story of every woman out there in India. But this story becomes more horrible for women when it comes to Uttar Pradesh.

I am a 26-year-old girl, who works in a software company in Noida and consider myself strong and independent. I think I am brave and project myself as one. Despite this outward self-assurance, there’s deep down a constant fear of being harmed — molested, kidnapped, raped — when I am alone out there on the road.

I have seen BJP electoral campaign which speaks about women feeling safe in the state under Yogi Adityanath rule. I beg to differ. Instead of improving, the situation has only deteriorated in the past few years. There’s been continuous rise of crime against women and the intensity of the crime has been increasing each passing day.

You open the newspaper and you see horrible stories of crime against women splashed all over — raped for protesting against sexual advances, burnt alive for dowry, acid poured for refusing proposal… the list goes on. If you further focus at the place of the news, you’ll see the state of Uttar Pradesh where a majority of such incidents are happening.

On top of this, the saddest part is the attitude of political parties towards our safety. It’s bizarre and outrageous to make such claims that the incumbent government in Uttar Pradesh has addressed the issue of women safety in the state.

ALSO READ: The Monk Who Sold Hardline Hindutva

Though the recent claim by the current government that UP women can go out at night without fear is not even close to the truth, this can be a point that women should not let go. If a political leader has talked about it, women should come together, rally around this and press for it in this election in Uttar Pradesh. We don’t need such lip service; we need real safety.

Our political leaders are far from reality on the ground. I believe that it’s time for women in Uttar Pradesh to hold political parties accountable and demand safety for themselves. We should make it an election issue now. High time.

This country is talking about increasing the participation of women in the workforce. But this participation will only increase when the government addresses the core issue of women safety. I work at night shifts and the shift ends at an odd hour, when the entire road is deserted. It’s every day’s fear for me and other girls to reach home safely.

I have spent some time in other states like Karnataka (in Bengaluru) and Maharashtra (in Mumbai). As a woman, I have felt safer travelling around there. But, when you land in Uttar Pradesh (in Noida), you suddenly feel many pair of eyes chasing you. However, the situation is better in cities compared to the hinterland of the state, where the horror stories of crime and injustices against women can send shivers down your spine.

As told to Md. Tausif Alam

Weekly Update: Gasbag Gunboat Diplomacy, Hijab Row & Yogi’s Maya

With pop guns blazing from her mouth and a dance of eyebrows that mimicked Clint Eastwood in A Few Dollars More, Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Secretary (Foreign Minister), went to meet the savvy, experienced Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov to tell him ‘Clear out or….’

The amused Lavrov waited for the ‘or…’. It turned out the gunboat waiting outside Kremlin was threat of economic sanctions and the prophecy of a dangerous war that Britain won’t get involved in but will sell weapons in.

One of the most experienced diplomats in the world, Lavrov made comic of Britain’s diplomatic initiative and said it was like a mute talking to the deaf and called her style, ‘shouting slogans from the tribunes’. The British Foreign Minister thought he was calling her ‘mute’ and immediately retorted that she was certainly not mute in the talks making herself look even more silly.

But that was not the only banana slip. During the talks Lavrov asked her a ‘trick question’ whether she recognised Russia’s sovereignty over regions of Voronehz and Rostov. ‘Never’ said Clint Liz Truss Eastwood making lip contortions as if spitting tobacco on the floor just as Clint does on screen. Liz, who had done as much homework as her Boss, Boris of Global Britain does before a meeting, thought Voronehz was Donbass. She probably didn’t know where Donbass was either.

By this time Lavrov probably felt like a University professor asked to do an oral viva of a student who had less knowledge than a nursery child but attempting a degree exam. It was the British Ambassador who quietly reminded Liz Truss that Voronehz and Rostov were Russian regions just as Midlands and Hertfordshire are in Britain.

During colonialism, the British had perfected a unique form of diplomacy called gunboat diplomacy. There would be a few ships with cannons loaded and pointing towards the Chief’s house while the British representative would engage in ‘diplomatic negotiations’. It went like this:

Brit Diplomat: ‘Chief, we want your land to dig gold and we will give you these shiny plastic beads in return.’

Chief: ‘Not acceptable.’

British Diplomat: ‘Ok that boat there will make our opening diplomatic statement.’

The cannons fired killing half the village and the Chief.

This particular type of British diplomacy worked well during colonialism. Now everyone has big cannons and the Russians some hundred times more than British Army. But habits die hard. The British Foreign Office still sticks to the old and tried methods. So its minister went to the Bear’s den to tell Lavrov, ‘Clear off or….’

Imagine Lavrov’s disbelief! In a war between Britain and Russia, the British Island will be frazzled within 15 minutes out of sight, making the channel crossing a long journey between France and America without any recognisable land mass in between.

The British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, hoping to oust Boris the Boss, came back to Britain thinking she had put Lavrov in his place with her gunboat diplomacy and looking tough and determined. To the many old Brits, this playacting reminds of old days and they love it, even if it is only drama now. She will get their votes.

As for the sanctions, the Russians know that the threat of freezing their ‘slush money’ is non-starter. Britain owns 90% of ex pirate Islands now used for ‘keeping safe illicit money or money away from the taxman.’ The arrangement works in secrecy. If the Government freezes funds of one person, the whole edifice will start to come apart exposing British Oligarchs as well. Not a chance that British impose real sanctions.

Karnataka Going French

It was just the French who were afraid of women’s clothing and brought in the full force of the law against little girls wearing hijab. Now it is the brave men of Karnataka, the Hindu Rashtra soldiers, who feel their identity, masculinity and Trishul power draining existentially when they see an 8 year old girl with a Hijab over her head.

It seems romantic revivalism of the Kshatriya soldier has had the same effect on the men of Karnataka as the French revolution did on the French.

Both have huddled in numbers and passed laws banning the threatening and dangerous piece of cotton or polyester clothing over the head of young women. Imagine little girls saying, ‘Mummy, why is that man going pale and trembling when he looks at my hijab?’

The police, the Government officers and the teachers have forced little girls to ‘TAKE OFF THAT HEAD SCARF’, called hijab. The men can feel safe in Karnataka. Onward march the soldiers of Krishna, now that they have removed the most powerful defence equipment that was hampering their progress in what ever they think they are progressing to.

Only problem, when is a hijab not a form of chunni. dupatta or vice versa. Women have been covering their heads in South Asia since time immemorial. Even Sita covered her head. Will all young girls in Karnataka be subjected to naked heads! No more chunni! That is what the French did.

It is quite a sight to see a French Foreign Legion trained soldier reduced to a weeping, melting body of tissue when he sees a schoolgirl with a hijab. So it was understandable the French had to ban head covering. It is a quirk of French cultural genes as no one else in the world was inflicted with this fear psychosis of the hijab. Now it seems the genetic mutation has reached Karnataka. It would have been better to ban Air France.

Can ‘flyover superman’ Modi ji come to the rescue?

Moksha Elections Continue

It was a belief held in ancient times that this world is ‘maya’, an illusion. Moksha is when the soul leaves the body and joins the great ‘Brahma’. That belief sustained Hindus for thousands of years. Hindus survived alien occupations, wars, and oppressive regimes knowing that all that takes ‘form as matter’ is ‘maya’. Yoga and meditation were geared towards that.

Now Yogi Adityanath, perhaps having done enough yoga and not seeing any Mokshastan in sight has decided that it will be Hindustan that will be made into Moksha basti. The concept of Maya itself has become illusion and reality is to make first UP, then Hindustan, free of Muslims. So his tirades against Indian Muslims continue and an underlying theme of elections in UP.

One will no longer have to persevere through Yoga, Simran, Samadhi, Dhyan. People can just go to the voting booth, put Yogi ji in power again and Moksha will be in sight. And its all thanks to the genius of the British.

The power of British invention of democracy is extraordinary. Seems Westminster style democracy panth beats all other Indian panths and can achieve moksha in mayaland too.

‘Why I Don’t Want Yogi To Become Chief Minister Again’

Mohammed Ahmed Ansari, a lawyer in Allahabad High Court and a social worker, spells out why it is dangerous to elect leaders like Yogi Adityanath

A couple of days back, Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi was addressing a public meeting in Bulandshahr, western UP where he made a reference to his political opponents. He said: ‘10 March ke baad inki saari garmi shaant kar denge’ (Will bring all their energy down after poll results). Does this kind of foul language suit the office of a chief minister? The video clips of this speech is in public domain and widely circulated.

There are other speeches where he refers the Muslim population of his state as “those who speak abbajaan (father in Urdu)” and slyly uses 80-versus-20 slogan in an indirect reference to the national percentage of Hindus and Muslims. How can a person who is openly divisive and communal in his conduct and speeches deserve to be the head of a state?

Article 21 of the Constitution gives everyone the protection of life and personal liberty. Now see what Yogi Ji is saying through public platforms: ‘Earlier government used to give funds for kabristaan, we are building shamshan ghats.’ This is as barefaced as our chief minister can get to polarise its people.

Ansari lists out inflammatory speeches made by Yogi Adityanath

The people of Uttar Pradesh take pride in its Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (an inclusive ethos). In Allahabad, every year I lead a small team of volunteers to put up tents and eateries near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna for the pilgrims who come for a holy dip at Kumbh. We celebrate each other’s festivals with equal zeal. Hardliners are not happy with this, they are always trying to create rift and tension.

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There are many examples where the current ruling dispensation has tried to target Muslims. Take, for example, the National Register of Citizens. In various public speeches, BJP leaders have said that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Parsis need not worry about it, implying that only Muslims should. The message is all those who cannot find a place in the NRC would be considered refugees under the new citizenship law and get to stay in India, all except Muslims in the same position.

When protests erupted on more than 60 university campuses in India against NRC and Citizenship Amendment Act, BJP-ruled states cracked down on them with brutal violence, but none as harshly as in Uttar Pradesh. Should it come as a surprise that the maximum casualties in the protests against CAA-NRC were from Uttar Pradesh?

The Adityanath government sought to blame Muslims for the violence. It has gone to the extent of sending notices to more than 500 Muslim families, seeking to recover damages for loss of public property from them. Recent media reports have disclosed how the officials in UP administration played judge and jury to target innocent families belonging to Muslim community.

Yogi has often called the previous Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav as one of the mafia. He has also attacked Yadav for giving tickets to those with a criminal background. Please go through the list of the BJP candidates; over 100 of them have criminal cases against them. Yogi Ji himself had several criminal cases on him, including those of attempt to murder and instigating riots. He closed down all the cases after becoming the CM.

The election commission should take suo-motto cognizance of his hate speeches. If an elected chief minister is making inflammatory speeches what could you expect from others who are actively want to disturb the peace and harmony of India?

As Told to Rajat Rai

‘Election Rallies Were Like Festivals; Digital Meets Are No Fun’

Pradeep Bali from Bagpat (UP) says rural voters used to make preparation in advance to attend a political rally but times are changing in a digital world

Before Covid struck Uttar Pradesh, election rallies used to be like community festivals. People would get excited to know about a political public meeting in their vicinity; preparations of logistics, groupings will begin a few days in advance. Excitement would be in the air. But after the Election Commission banned public rallies due to Corona in this election, the punch is gone. Virtual rallies (where a small gathering listens to the leaders before a TV screen) hardly carries the same thrill.

Going to a rally was an event. You selected your best outfit, ensured your seat in the bus, or the vehicles to the rally-bound spot and arranged for a flag, headgear or stole matching with the party you supported… There would be a competition of sorts amongst the participants to stand out.

Virtual rallies miss out on that. The gatherings are smaller, there is little cheering and although some people say this is the future of political rallies, I believe it will take many years when a digital public meeting can connect with the masses, at least in Uttar Pradesh or India.

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Take, for example, the virtual rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh) a day before. Several LED TV screens were placed in several vantage points for the participants but the telecast often got disrupted. National netas were at the mercy of a service provider for their broadcast. At some places, people were looking at a blank screen, merely listening to the speech via speakers.

I will also let out a secret here. Quite often, local organisers paid a small amount to the participants from various villages to reach the venue. Now, they set up screens at vantage points close to villages in a constituency.

Bali (inset) says the future belongs to online addresses

At times when two big political opponents held public addresses in close proximity, their rivalry required arranging larger crowds. Many villagers benefited from it as they were given a conveyance or convenience payment to attend the meeting. The compensation could be from ₹200 to ₹500. Virtual rallies took it away.

Nonetheless, our youngsters say virtual rallies are the future as we go towards a Digital India. For, maintaining law and order at such gatherings is a headache for the police and the administration. Stampedes are also a part of such gatherings. Also, there are fights for a vantage seating to have a glimpse of the leader and take selfies. Virtual rallies are better managed.

A virtual rally in Uttar Pradesh

From what I have read in newspapers, there are over 150 crore android phones in use in Uttar Pradesh. Among these, 80 to 90 crore are in rural areas. See the participation of voters….Our rural voters are more concerned and their participation is more than the urban populace.

So even though at present, only the educated and those with better internet connectivity are able to attend the virtual rallies, the immediate future will turn things around. The rural voters like us will be the toast of the town, with affordable smartphones in hands and the focus of political leaders seeking votes.

As told to Rajat Rai