Patriotism Drowns All Other Issues
   09-Apr-2019
‘Ib ke chunav nahi, desh ki khatir jung hai’ sums up an elderly chaudhary in Shamli
Ajay Mittal from Meerut
 
The Lok Sabha election this time is being fought in a changed atmosphere, an atmosphere charged with nationalist emotions, reminding one of nationwide Vidhan Sabha elections held in early 1972 in the aftermath of the 1971 Bangladesh war.
 
 
Shri Satya Pal singh and others carrying the body of jawan Pradip Kumar who was martyred in Pulwama attack 
 
Travelling by road in the hinterland of Western UP imparts a new vision about the upcoming elections. This area is a fertile land for producing recruits for Indian army and paramilitary forces. Many army-men from here have laid down their lives for the nation while serving. The people here are always upbeat whenever a war or a war-like situation arises. I had occasion to talk to a group of people in village Soram in Muzaffarnagar District. When asked about whom they will vote this time, all of them unanimously replied in one voice ‘Modi’. Why him, I asked. “He is a strong man, who knows how to decimate the enemies of Bharat. He has put even China in place. ‘Aur ib ke chunav nahi, desh ki khatir jung hai bhaiji,” says Suresh Chaudhary the eldest-looking among them all. All nods their heads in approval. On being asked whom they voted in the by-election held only a few months back, they admitted to have voted in favour of Tabassum, the Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate contesting on Samajwadi Party ticket. It was apparent that the aerial strike against Pakistani terrorists has made these people change their choice.

 
 BJP activists during a rally in Western Uttar Pradesh
 
Even elsewhere in Soram, a rather large village with almost 12,000 voters, and historically the centre of Baliyan Khaap, a predominant clan among the Jats, people seem to have made up their mind. It is Modi all the way. I had thought that the arrears of sugarcane must have been influencing the minds of the voters in this sugar belt. But nothing doing. Even Naresh Tikait, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union, has said that the arrears won’t be made an election issue.
 

 
 
The fact is that as on 23 March, the cane arrears had crossed Rs 10,000 crore mark in the 121 sugar mills of the state, out of which more than half belong to about half a dozen mills of Western UP. Not that the Yogi government’s record in the matter of cane repayment is bleak. In fact, it is far better than the preceding Akhilesh government, which had left five years’ arrears unpaid when Yogi took over. The BJP government has cleared all those long pending dues, and now only 260 crores of the 2017-18 season plus about 9800 crores of the current crushing season stand as due. The farmers have all praise for this.
  • Akhilesh had left five years’ cane arrears unpaid when Yogi took over. But he cleared all those dues, and now only Rs 260 crore of 2017-18 season plus the current season stand as due. The farmers have all praise for this 
  • The untiring development by BJP governments both at the Centre and the state, coupled with the attack on Pakistani terror camps will do the impossible in UP
 
Wading through the crowded roads of Muzaffarnagar, the district centre where the Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh is locked in a grim battle with the BJP’s sitting MP Sanjeev Baliyaan, and talking to people around, one gets the impression that the former's chances to win are remote. He is although supported by SP and BSP, there is uncertainty in his camp.
 
Similar is the situation in nearby Baghpat where Jayant, his son, is challenging the incumbent MP, Satya Pal Singh, former IPS officer, and a Minister in Modi government. Here too the general feeling among people is that the latter has done more developmental work in the constituency than the formidable Charan Singh and Ajit Singh, the father-son duo, put together. And the effect of the aerial strike is visible everywhere.
Uttar Pradesh Total Lok Sabha Seats : 80
Party Position : BJP- 73, Congress- 02, SP- 05
 Major Issues : Contrary to the scams happened during SP rule, major relief to farmers, curb on communal riots
 
Uttar Pradesh is a prestigious state for the BJP for two obvious reasons. One is the presence of both the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister in the fray, fighting it out from Varanasi and Lucknow respectively. The other is the fact that in 2014 elections, the BJP had swept the polls winning as much as 71 seats on its own out of 80 besides two seats won by its coalition partner the Apna Dal. The challenge, therefore, is to repeat or if possible, improve the performance. In normal circumstances, the task would appear daunting for any political party worth the name. But, it seems that the untiring development activity let loose by its governments both at the Centre and the state, coupled with the attack on Pakistani terror will do the impossible.
 
Already, there are signs of nervousness among the opposition, so much so that Rahul Gandhi is seriously contemplating running from a Kerala constituency also. He and his managers in Amethi have developed cold feet sensing the popular mood which is giving a positive response to Smriti Irani, the contender from the BJP. She has been nursing Amethi for the last five years. The people here have seen development at her hands as seen never before. Pramod Shrivastava, a resident of village Kaithanpurwa in Amethi says that there were danger bells for Rahul even during the last elections which he could scrape through with extreme difficulty with a thin margin of a lakh votes only. He goes on to say that out of 10 Vidhan Sabha constituencies under Amethi and Raebareli Lok Sabha seats, Congress has only two while the BJP controls six. Shrivastava is sure that this election will see Rahul's debacle, and even Sonia Gandhi will find it tough getting re-elected from her fiefdom.
 
The aerial attack is of course the game changer. But the schemes like the Ujjawala, under which about 2.75 crore poor households received free cooking gas connections in UP, or the Swachh Bharat Mission which saw construction of about three crore latrines, or the Pradhanmantri Awas Yojna, which made it possible for the indigent to have roof over their heads, or provision of free electricity connections to every household without electricity so far, have placed the BJP in good stead.
 
The Scheduled Castes that are about 4.5 crore in a population exceeding 200 million are considered BSP’s supporters, a myth to a large extent exploded time and again. The Valmikis, numbering about 1.5 million, Koris (2.5 million) and Pasis (about 0.75 million) besides Khateek (0.5 m) have proved themselves to be supporters of the BJP or its allies election after election. But the largest group, that of the Jatav, the appellation including the Ravidasi, constituting about half of the SCs, has remained enigmatic to pro-Hindutva forces. But this time, it seems many inroads have been built through them by developmental works of the BJP governments as also service projects launched in large numbers by Hindu NGOs among them. The Ravidasis, for one, appears well set to support the BJP this time in large numbers. Modi and Yogi, both launched a number of projects at Sant Ravidas' birthplace in Varanasi. His birth anniversary on Magh Poornima, has been declared a public holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act. The measure has gone well with the community.
 
The whole election scenario in this politically important state points to another landslide victory for BJP. It remains to be seen whether it would surpass the earlier spectacular show, or not.