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Jittery or confident?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 9, 2017, 12:22 am IST
Updated : Mar 9, 2017, 7:23 am IST

The PM’s three-day Varanasi campaign shows the BJP is under pressure in UP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters as he campaigns for his party in the Uttar Pradesh state elections in Varanasi. (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters as he campaigns for his party in the Uttar Pradesh state elections in Varanasi. (Photo: PTI)

This drama reveals BJP’s real agenda: Sandeep Dikshit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MP from Varanasi, is the principal campaigner for the BJP — perhaps the only one. He sets the agenda for the party and its campaigns, and manages to buy and bully the media into projecting his speeches, campaigns and statements as screaming headlines. Uttar Pradesh is psychologically and politically very important to him, and not just for its size. The prospect of losing to a coalition is a very unappealing thought to him.

How do we read this hyped, soap-opera-type, hysterical, 24-hour media coverage of an MP visiting his constituency? That a PM must spend time campaigning for MLAs in his constituency, I accept. That a PM campaigning in his constituency would grab more eyeballs and garner media interest is also fine. What is intriguing are how the various episodes in this mega serial played out.

Roadshow Battle: I was in Varanasi where everyone knew that the BJP and the SP-Congress parties had roadshows lined up on the same day. What raises eyebrows is the blatant blank out of the huge SP-Congress turnout both by print and electronic media and the non-stop coverage of PM Modi’s roadshow.

The (Non) Achievement List: Apart from a couple of Central government-financed infrastructure investments that tinkered with Varanasi’s issues, Mr Modi’s record as an MP for his constituency has been abysmal. He sounded desperate in his speeches that advertised his absent contributions, and had no connect with Kashi voters.

We all know too well that when we are nervous about our lack of achievements we cloud it by raising unrelated issues like the state of the nation, or fundamentalism or corruption of others to divert attention of the people. The Varanasi MP did just that.

The Communal Cauldron: The BJP’s propaganda in UP over the past few months has been clearly and nakedly communal. Those voting as Hindus only are voting for the BJP, those voting for greater development and maintenance of law and order or justice are voting for SP, Congress, BSP, etc. True to form, Mr Modi went for the communal jugular at the very onset by visiting the Kashi Vishwanath temple, televising his puja there and feeding a cow in full glare of the media. How is his personal religious activity of any relevance here?

The Outsider Teams — Central government ministers, nearly 300 volunteers from various business corporations and a huge contingent of Gujarati businessmen descended on the city like a swarm of flies. What were the businessmen doing there? They were simply wheeler-dealers who were used to manage finance, run clandestine campaigns, influence people through illegal appeals and undertake covert propaganda activities outside the purview of the Election Commission and the local administration (interestingly, the Aam Aadmi Party uses the same tactics).

In sum, while the PM is nervous about Varanasi, as he is about UP, what all this drama really reveals is BJP’s real agenda. The veneer of development and nationalism is fast eroding. He projects the image of a Hindu-hriday-samrat, of a Hindu national rather than Indian national.

Whatever be the results in UP — PM Modi knows one thing — if people vote along communal lines, he wins, if they vote as Indians, he loses.

The writer is a national spokesman of the Congress

Modiji is a jansampark to his voters
Finally, the month-long campaign and polling for the final phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections got over on March 8. We saw a lot of interesting political punches shared between Bua-Bhatija and the Yadav parivar. The Gayatri Prajapati mantra also created a lot of hue and cry, but the biggest buzz in political and media circles was created by the three-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.

The Opposition has been alleging that the PM’s visit was an act of desperation as the BJP has gone jittery ahead of the results. But we must remember that for Varanasi, Mr Modi is not only the Prime Minister of India but also its member of Parliament. He is their representative! So I don’t understand when an MP communicates with his voters in his own constituency, how can it be called an “act of desperation”?

We the people of India had witnessed that during the rule of UPA-1 and UPA-2, the then Prime Minister simply could not attract a large or for that matter any crowd. So we became accustomed to a PM with a rather unremarkable personality and very low popularity.

But Prime Minister Modi is different — he is popular. People crave to listen to him. Truly, he is not only the most popular leader in the county but also the “star campaigner of the BJP”.

Modiji is a “jansampark” to his voters: he visited the Garhwa Ghat Ashram and ex-PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ancestral house in Ramnagar, Varanasi. He also visited the village that he has adopted as an MP. Why is nobody discussing this?

I would like to ask the great Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh how many times they have visited Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ancestral house? After all, he belonged to their party.

Also, I would like to ask our present Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal how many times he has visited Varanasi after he fought the election from there? Do these “stalwarts” just know the language of politics only, not the language of common people?

So my take on the issue is that when a Prime Minister interacts with people from his own constituency it is good sign of a vibrant democracy. Those who are having doubts about Mr Modi’s intentions are insulting the people of Varanasi.

The mindless propaganda by the Opposition also demonstrates that they don’t have anything substantial to discuss. Clearly they can’t talk about development as that will backfire because they haven’t done anything for the state. The Congress is nothing but being opportunistic — they have been raising the slogan “27 saal UP behaal”, but now are in alliance with the ruling Samajwadi Party, who is primarily responsible for the sad state of affairs in UP! Also, if the SP was confident about its development work in UP, it would not have agreed to the alliance with a party that is fast disappearing from this country. So these issues have been raised just to confuse the voters, and also send a message to a particular community that only they can beat the BJP.

The ground realty is that the people have decided to vote for change in UP and support the issues raised by the BJP.

The writer is a Delhi BJP spokesman

Tags: narendra modi, central government, election commission