Battlelines are getting drawn and redrawn in five States going to the polls, with Uttar Pradesh getting sharp focus at the national level. For the end result shall give an inkling to the popularity of the Modi NDA government. The big question doing the rounds in Lucknow and New Delhi is whether the Samajwadi Party under Akhilesh Yadav dethrones the BJP and perhaps dash Yogi Adityanath’s hope of being a contender for the top seat post in 2024. Not only has Akhilesh got three ministers of Yogi government and a number of MLAs joining his party, but has managed to put spotlight on non-Yadav OBC communities against the saffron party’s Hindu identity confines? The BJP this time around isn’t being successful in consolidating the most backward classes, over 30% of total voters, in its favour, with the exodus of its leaders being seen. There is anger against Yogi’s government about mishandling of the pandemic from this community particularly added with the ire from the farmers. The BJP regime, it is now being voiced, has over the past four years ‘neglected’ leaders belonging to ‘Dalit and backward communities and minorities,’ and ‘ignored’ concerns of ‘Dalits, backward communities, unemployed youth, small-and medium businesspersons’, as letters of resignations of its ministers spell out.
During his stewardship, Yogi has asserted an upper caste-driven party and is said to have left no stone unturned to project himself as a ‘Thakur leader.’ His penchant for pushing the Hindutva agenda of the party has gradually earned ire from the backward and Dalit caste groups which see promise of ‘social justice’ having got lost and choose to voice it openly in this battle.
Akhilesh seems to have grabbed the opportunity—turning the polls into a battle between Hindutva and social justice politics. He is building coalition of parties representing interests of different non-Yadav OBC and MBC communities. The fact that Yogi is now to contest from Gorakhpur, his stronghold, and not Ayodhya or Mathura, is also a message that BJP has realised it needs to do a lot more than just consolidate its Hindu vote. This election, the BSP, seems to be a non-contender, even though Mayawati has announced 53 candidates in its first list. The Congress has announced a total of 125 candidates, 40% are women and 40% youth and hopes the combination would bring in a ‘new kind of politics in the state.’ There are permutations and combinations which shall further emerge during the seven-phase poll for 403 seats, but the triumph of BJP over its rivals is clearly blurred as of now. Hold on, it will say for it is bound to have tricks up its sleeve.
Congress’ Fate In Manipur
Will the Congress be able to reconstruct itself in the upcoming Manipur elections, is the question. Having ruled the State from 2002 to 2017, the Congress which is today down to mere 13 MLAs, continues to have hope on its three time Chief Minister, 73-year-old Ibobi Singh, currently Leader of the Opposition, to bounce back. The reasoning being that ‘winning’ constituencies is key for individual candidates and not the party banner alone. Besides, there is infighting within ruling BJP alliance, with many contenders, such as the NPP, wanting the coveted Chief Minister seat, held by Biren Singh. Of course, it’s important the Congress gives tickets to individuals who could be the winning horse as despite an exodus, the State unit has received applications for tickets from ‘aspirants from 50-odd Assembly constituencies’. However, it must also work out an understanding with smaller parties, like the BJP did in 2017, when it outdid the Congress, single largest party, and formed the government. Can the trend of being swayed by the ruling party at the Centre, typical in the north east, be halted?
It’s sheer conundrum for the voter in Goa. An alliance between the Opposition parties to edge out the BJP, is to be or not to be? The sparring between the TMC and Congress refuses to ebb, rather picks up steam. The Congress accuses the TMC ofrumour mongering of a possible alliance with it and categorically says it’s a no-go, ‘completely baseless & untrue,’and that the grand old party is confident of putting‘Goa back on the path to progress soon.’. It further accused the TMC ‘brilliant strategy’to aid the BJP by seeking to ‘weaken Congress and divide the anti-BJP.’ The TMC hit back and saying that Congress’ ‘uninformed false bravado no substitute for rational thinking and maturity’, and though there was a definite offer between principals on table two weeks ago, it was taken off. Clearly, the two are caught in the bind of who should be the big brother and be the ‘lead party’ in forming an alliance. With no truck between the two, the BJP should see hope of retaining power as the anti-BJP alliance of Congress, TMC, Goa Forward Party, MGP and AAP seems to be a distance dream as of now, unless there is a miracle!
Delhi and team AAP is peeved with the Centre. It views the notice issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), last week recommending suspension of its government’s‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme as yet another “conspiracy by the BJP.” As an education initiative, it launched the programme last October to provide voluntary mentors to IX and XII class students, wherein those aged between 18-35 years sign up to become mentors through an app to connect with students and have regular phone calls for a minimum 2 months, which could extend up to 4 months. So far, 44,000 are ‘mentors’, of which 500 are IIT graduates, 500IIM graduates, 15,600 studying from graduation to PhDs and 15,600 working.The NCPCR received a complaint by a ‘BJP worker in Chhattisgarh’ alleging the programme brings kids and “unknown persons” together and exposes them to danger as there’slack of mentors’ verification, especially if they have any record of crimes against children! It sought Delhi government’s response; termed the reply as “ineffectual”; recommended the programme be suspended immediately “until all loopholes pertaining to safety are overhauled”.But AAP is unwilling to heed rather urges BJP at Centre to stop playing politics. It argues: through the programme education is now becoming a mass movement…the BJP is worried that if coming generation is educated, how will it keep them trapped in darkness and entangled in communal fights?..” Instead, it asks the programme be implemented across the country!
SC Ire on TN Govt
Theproverbial ‘political vendetta’ surfaces in Tamil Nadu. The DMK government got an earful from the Supreme Court over the manner former AIADMK Dairy Development Minister KTR Bhalaji was arrested. On Wednesday, while granting him a 4-week bail over an alleged employment scam, wherein he was accused of taking bribe while offering jobs in Aavin, State-run milk producer, the court lambasted Stalin government for police conduct, when his appeal against rejection of anticipatory bail plea by Madras HC was pending before it.Though the police arrested him finally from Hasaan 10 days ago after a 3-week search, the court was livid over his lawyers raided. “we will have to order an inquiry into how your police are behaving with advocates…In what manner liberty of a man has been snatched? Was the lawyer harbouring the accused? Doesn’t the accused have the right to go to a lawyer?..”said the bench. Further, the manner in which he was arrested, lawyer’s office raided, that Bhalaji was taken to Trichy prison, 300 km away from Madurai prison, which was the jurisdictional prison—all was “objectionable”, serious enough for a judicial probe, noted the court. A lesson which other governments would do well to note in their penchant to settle scores when coming to power. — INFA