Narendra Modi is all set to contest from Varanasi. The entire focus of elections have changed. Whichever party made it to power in Delhi; they all sailed through Uttar Pradesh. Atal Bihari came to power from here and after independence, BJP ruled only for 6 years. In 1991 general election, P.V. Narasimha Rao broke the fable; then Congress won only five out of 84 Lok Sabha seats from this state then also it ruled at the centre. Thakur and Brahmin politics of UP has major role in making and breaking the authority. For BJP, UP has been an important state with its overall electoral affluences to its seat tally. BJP came once to power via UP, over Ram Mandir episode.
In 1991, 1996 and 1998 BJP won 50-plus seats from UP in the general elections. From 1999 general election, BJP started fading in UP as they failed in their promise of making Ram Mandir the disputed land. People felt cheated and since then, BJP never came to power again. There after Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) took over the charge of UP turn by turn. Once again, party is enthusiastic that Modi can revive the BJP voters and party can topple the chart in maximum constituencies in the state. Modi is regarded as ‘Hindutva’ leader and also is known for his development and progress vision. UP has already given its mandate to BJP because of Modi factor. Uttar Pradesh elections would be quite interesting this time.
Old rulers of state, BSP and SP are keeping no stones unturned to gain maximum seats. Though Congress is not in competition in this state, then also it is trying its hand very hard. Newly emerged AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is contesting against Modi and on March 25th he will be addressing a rally in the temple city. Thousands of volunteers of BJP and AAP are working for their respective leaders in state, through online promotions, social network campaigns, news and word publicity, everything is random for both the candidates. Without a strong performance in this belt, the BJP will not be able to come anywhere near to the 272-seat target it has set and it feels that Modi contesting from Varanasi will induce some kind of a swing. BJP policymakers feel that with the western UP already polarised in its favour after the Muzaffarnagar riots, they need one more boost for eastern UP, so as to bag the entire state. The candidature of Modi from Varanasi, party strategists, would provide a fillip to the party in the state.
At the same time, experts from this ancient city speculate that there are many who fear that Modi’s presence may spoil the fabric of the city which has had a large Muslim population living side by side with the Hindus. The flowers offered in the ancient temples here are sold by Muslims, even the Banarasi saree is woven by Muslims. Many who come from higher income groups and academic backgrounds are worried about what Modi will do. Joshi won from here by a small margin of 17,200 votes in the 2009 polls against mafia don Mukhtar Ansari of BSP. Although touted as a BJP stronghold, it has given mixed results to the party in the last few elections. The Congress has fielded influential leader Ajai Rai and Mukhtar Ansari is likely to again jump into the fray from his own political outfit Qaumi Ekta Dal. AAP has already declared that its founder Arvind Kejriwal would contest the polls if Modi stands from Varanasi.
Uttar Pradesh is a very important state for BJP, BSP and SP. However, division of votes can elect individuals to the Parliament. This is a regular but unwelcome aspect of elections in caste-ridden states, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, the Congress was benefiting from division of votes. Now, BJP may be a beneficiary. However, there is still uncertainty. Formation of government at the Centre, with the alliance of many parties with a regional agenda should be avoided but they have no national views.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal has lost a good opportunity to give India an honest alternative. As Abraham Lincoln said “You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. AAP has already set up a team of active members in every gram sabha, block, panchayat and city level constituencies and volunteers are meeting people. The party plans to have at least 5,000 active workers from both Allahabad and Phulpur. They are making efforts to induct more and more people into the party fold and asking them to hear Arvind Kejriwal’s views at his proposed rally in Varanasi. Active volunteers are going to each gram sabha, village and block, appointing an active team of members and apprising to the villagers the concept of Swaraj. Now, it is election time and UP becomes a very important state. Otherwise, it gets relegated to one of the most backward states, and has retained that status since 1947.
Varanasi election is a battle between common man (not Aam Aadmi Party) and political dictators… let see who wins from there.