Monday, February 27, 2017

Hung Uttar Pradesh?

by Ratnakar Tripathy

The UP Assembly [Vidhan Bhawan]
Yesterday during his election rally in Mau, Uttar Pradesh, the star BJP campaigner and the PM Narendra Modi presented to his large audience what may be called his version of electoral analysis in UP, a most unusual exercise by all means of telling a large gathering of voters about their own collective decision. He claimed that the SP and BSP are conspiring to keep BJP out of power through a hung assembly even though he is confident of winning three fourths of the assembly seats. He alleged that the two opposing parties wish to keep the BJP out of power by any means and even a hung situation would do perfectly for them. The speech is being read busily in many different ways by the analysts and UP being as confusing as it is, commentators are keeping themselves busy teasing out non-existent messages hidden between the lines. But he also said in the same speech “Our alliance partners will be made part of BJP government in UP when our party comes to power.” Was this aimed at Mayawati is what some sections in the press are wondering. Recently even Akhilesh hinted at the possibility of Mayawati tying a rakhi on the PM’s wrist! So one wonders! But the convoluted statement made by the PM does indicate that the UP elections this time round are nerve wracking for everyone – the party bosses, the candidates, the ground level worker, the journalists of the armchair or the roving variety and of course the PM himself. The incoherence shown in the Mau speech may thus just be a case of the jitters.

Lately, even Prashant Kishor, the electoral wizard whom I follow on FB has had no bragging posts unlike the early phases of the elections. The candidates are of course spending inordinate amount of time attacking each other with more emphasis on elimination of others rather than acceptance of oneself. Even as the ABVP goons are beating up teachers and students in Delhi, Modi claims to get Mau rid of the local strongman Mukhtar Ansari who has a habit of not losing elections ever. I have watched videos of speeches by Akhilesh and Mayawati where the substance of their speech seems to be to inform the audience they are winning by a large majority. The masses readily and routinely break into a flattering cheer and the day goes by happily, though the nights must be getting tough again on second thought.  This example fully illustrates how nerve jangling UP can become - recently a journalist friend of mine came back from a grueling tour of UP and declared in the social media he is absolutely clueless about the outcome of the polls, qualifying almost as an afterthought that he thought the BJP seems to have an edge. His colleagues and friends immediately pounced on him with comments alleging he has ‘sold out’. So much for honest objectivity these days! Say what you may in my opinion it is the size of UP that is responsible for the psephological mess. The humungous size of UP has been unfair to its people even though the separation of Uttarakhand helped a bit. It is such a grand idea to be in the CM’s chair in UP, almost as good as ruling the country. But it is tough to gather this sprawl of a state and get it to embrace you. So the politician in UP despite all their hysterical attacks have joined a chorus of incoherent sounds chanting ‘we are winning’, as if the voter is a passive audience and not a determiner of their fates in 2017.

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