Home / Opinion / Columns /  It’s going to be a tough battle for all parties in UP
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The coalition led by Akhilesh Yadav is trying to storm the fort of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and it has created sudden unanticipated equations. Is the old battle of Mandal versus Kamandal going to be fought this time again in the state? For the moment, it seems so. Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of the state, by repeatedly visiting Ayodhya, tried to send the same message: Only the saffron party should get the credit for the construction of the Ram temple. Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also raised the issue of Mathura and tried to give a new colour to the mixture of religion and politics. Shortly before this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated a grand new ‘Viswanath Dham’. The message is clear, the BJP will try to win the elections with the help of a cocktail of religion and development.

Those who believe that the ruling party is relying on religion only are wrong. Official figures show that till now a total of 4.3 million poor people have been given houses in UP. Nearly 150 million are getting 5 kg extra foodgrain per unit per month. There is also a claim of providing 450,000 full-time jobs and 350,000 contractual jobs. Around 250,000 people have also been given jobs under the One District One Product scheme. Under the Saubhagya scheme, 14.1 million houses have been given free electricity connections along with free gas connections to 16.7 million. The state government claims that arrears of 1.5 trillion have been paid to sugarcane farmers, including the amount that has been due since the previous government. Is this enough?

In a vast state like UP, there is bound to be a lapse somewhere, no matter which party or leader is in power. One cannot ignore the issues like the terror of stray cattle that sometimes eat out the entire crop, inflation, unemployment etc. The opposition has left no stone unturned to prove the employment figures given by the government are just empty. BJP dissidents and opposition leaders are saying the government is somewhat anti-Brahmin. A few government officials were also blamed for ignoring elected representative since they belonged to the chief minister’s caste. Yogi Adityanath worked very hard, and there is no allegation of corruption against him, but the problem did not stop here. Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, Dharam Singh Saini, and 11 MLAs resigned and tried to prove that the government is anti-Dalit and anti-backwards. BJP spokespersons were labelled as defectors and opportunists, but it could not be denied that five years ago the same leaders were also used by the saffron party to win elections.

First, the farmers’ movement and now this wholesale defection has changed the shape of political current. Akhilesh Yadav is trying hard to bring the most backward caste with him. He already has the confidence of Muslims and Yadavs. Now the only thing needed is the support of a large section of the most-backwards, to overcome the current situation. It is also to be noted here that Akhilesh Yadav has done all this on his own. Earlier his father and both the uncles used to play the role of mentor and strategist. In this election, he has emerged as the undisputed ‘supremo’ of his party. He has also learned the art of headline management. BJP ministers and MLAs were therefore asked to resign one by one. Due to this, despite the ban on rallies, he remained in the day-to-day narrative. However, is this enough for him to win the election?

This question cannot be answered right now. The Bahujan Samaj Party and its leader Mayawati seem to be calm, but the party has already distributed more than 70% of tickets. The number of these people who win will also play a big role in the formation of the next government. Similarly, in the first list of 125 people released by the Congress, 50 are women. Among them is the mother of the rape victim of Unnao and Anganwadi worker of Shahjahanpur. This experiment is certainly better in comparison to religion and caste equations, but perhaps the party leaders themselves do not believe in it. This is why four out of seven Congress MLAs have switched sides so far. Here one should not make the mistake of assuming that because of defection the saffron party has become so weak that it is now unable to form the government. With the work of Yogi, the party has the country’s most popular leader Narendra Modi behind him, a well-organized organization, and ample resources, but the uncertainty remains. The party has to work harder to keep its clan together.

Poet Jigar Moradabadi once said about Ishq (love): Ik Aag ka daria hai aur doob ke jana hai (it’s a river of fire and you have to drown). Politicians may have to go through such difficult experiences in this election.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal.

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