Modi waves created magic for Brand BJP in 2014 but just in two years’ time they faced ‘disappointed voters’ in Delhi, Bihar and now Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state by population, as it headed to polls. During election season, all of us can only pick up fragments of the mood of the electorate. This is particularly true for a large and complex state as UP – with over 200 million people and with staggering regional and social variations. It is true that in pockets of western UP – particularly the Jat belt – there was palpable anger against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this election.
Some like him for his oratory skills, others appreciate him for his resoluteness; some like him for notebandi and the illusion of ‘taking on the rich’, others like him for his supposed truthfulness; some offer no real explanation but count him as their favourite leader. And some extremely hate him for various reasons, no matter how liked and hated he is but with passing time it’s evident that Modi is losing credibility at length. There are two reasons, Modi failed to deliver his election promises and second thing is that his party’s counter parts played hate politics by dividing people of our nation. And that is why, we are witnessing a curious paradox. If the BJP wins, it will definitely have to do with Modi’s appeal. But if it loses, it will not necessarily be a reflection of the growing ‘disappointment’ with Modi or his diminished popularity?
If victory needs a Modi element, then losing is also due to the same element. BJP’s entire political campaign depend on Modi rallies, without him BJP has no campaigner who can fetch votes for the party. Inspite of Modi asking voters to trust him with huge presence, we all know how the crowd is pulled and it is not necessary that the same crowd can turn out to be the voters. The same incident had occurred in Bihar also. Those who are voting for the BJP in this election are motivated by different factors. Some may like the local candidate; some may want the exclusion of Muslims from the power structure; some may genuinely be exasperated with law and order under Samajwadi Party; some may want to see people from their own castes and communities represented in government. But Modi is not the factor alone. Meanwhile, there is high turnout in voting, now the confusion is that who are those voters, Muslims, Dalits or Upper caste? Who is trying their best to elect their leader? High turnout means people have rejected some and decided for some.
Meanwhile, Modi is trying to please voters with emotional speeches, on the other hand Congress and SP are criticising him, they hit out at Modi for the latter’s claim of being the ‘adopted son’ of Uttar Pradesh, saying relationships don’t develop just by talking but by nurturing. With his sister and party’s star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi on the dais with him, Gandhi accused Modi of making “hollow promises” at a public meeting here in the constituency represented by his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Attacking the demonetisation decision, RaGa said all of a sudden Modi got the idea and decided to convert the hard earned notes of people into plain paper and asked people to go and stand in queues in front of banks.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi had gone one step ahead saying U.P. needs no adopted son, asking if the State really needed any leader from outside when it has its own sons. Modi earlier too said Varanasi has adopted me and I am like a son of it and will develop it… does Uttar Pradesh need to adopt anyone from outside. No outside leader is required. Every single youth of the State can become a leader…. Every single youth here will work for the State and develop it by leaps and bounds. Priyanka Gandhi’s first election rally speech in 2017 was very aggressive. Much better than the speeches of Rahul Gandhi, it was more precise, less melodrama. Though this time her speech lacked the passion and she just spoke for a few minutes, as if supporting the party.
Everyone hoped she would give a new track to the Congress campaign. So far, Rahul Gandhi’s speeches in the state have failed to create any sort of wave. Had it not been for Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav’s popularity in the state, Congress would have been probably facing tough time.
Meanwhile, Modi has settled himself on a morally high position among masses in the battle of opinions. Especially in states like Uttar Pradesh which has widespread poverty and constitutes mostly of “aam aadmis”, it doesn’t matter how low a politician stoop to attack the opponent. What matters is, if he or she is seen in action or perceived to be the one who can act. North Indian voters are smart; they don’t easily buy these attacks. Caste also plays a major role. Modi might be fascinating people by amusing them with his oratory skills; he is still not very convincing.
However, Priyanka Gandhi has been argued by many to possess the charisma of late PM Indira Gandhi. Many Congress workers and sympathisers continue to believe that she can match and beat PM Modi in every aspect. After listening to her speech, one can easily say that either she is a reluctant politician or overrated. During her speech, Priyanka committed the same mistake which Rahul continues to do, and enjoys it as well — that is attacking PM Modi with personal remarks against him. Congress’ biggest enemy is not PM Modi or the BJP. Its biggest enemy is its hypocrisy and tendency to take the voters for a ride. This is what you would also feel when you would find Rahul complaining against underdevelopment in Rae Bareli, which has been Congress’ home constituency for several decades, or Priyanka calling note ban bigger atrocity against women than rape. One hopes the grand old party makes a course correction or continue to stagnate the way it already is.
To conclude I can say, people will have really tough exam to choose between the less evil and expect the development of the state and progress of its people.
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