Amidst the chaos over demonetisation, campaigning in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh has suddenly gone into slow motion.
Leaders, who used to hit the campaign trail much before declaration of polls, are busy protesting or supporting demonetisation, either in Parliament or on the streets.
Even candidates, whose names have been cleared by the leadership, have been forced to stay home instead of going out for door-to-door campaigns.
Many candidates who campaigned in the countryside were bluntly told,“You are asking for votes while we are struggling for notes”.
Their outings are limited to attending marriages or death rituals. Voters take note of their candidate’s social commitments.
Helpless as they are in providing succour to public, the ‘netas’ feel unwanted. A BSP candidate in Allahabad said, “Koi hamara naam nahi le raha (no one even mentions our names).”
Ironically, the candidates themselves are short of new currency to arrange publicity material. A candidate from Agra said, “Even our workers are standing in long queues.”
BSP candidate from Lucknow Central, Rajeev Srivastava said, “Sensing the public indifference, we are forced to do closed-door meetings only.”
There were reports that some candidates distributed old notes among voters. “After December 30, all banned notes will turn into scrap. As deposits of huge amounts will invite IT notice, a candidate distributed them in Sitapur,” a politician claimed.
“You are asking for votes while we are struggling for notes”
Meanwhile, BSP’s small ‘bhaichara’ meetings led by Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Satish Chandra Mishra are still on, which, according to its rivals, are mainly attended by Jatavs, Mayawati’s core support group.
The party was the first to distribute tickets but is planning a major shake-up while BJP may start ticket distribution in the New Year.
Their state-wide pativartan yatra is evoking little public response except the ones addressed by party’s top leaders, including three by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he exhorted party cadre to spread the message of cashless transactions to end corruption in the country.
The BJP will start ticket distribution after the parivartan yatra in which all aspirants are putting their best foot forward.
The Samajwadi Party show is confined to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rallies in the divisions while Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is on an inauguration spree. He had said recently, “We are engaged in a family feud when we should have hit the campaign trail.”
However, demonetisation has overshadowed the feud too. The senior Yadav has managed to iron out differences.
The Congress’s khat sabhas have become a ‘thing of the past’: people are beginning to forget them.
Demonetisation is not only dominating the political discourse but also public discussions. The divisions on the lines of ‘for and against’ are clear as majority are expecting a miracle by Prime Minister Modi.
Senior RLD leader Jayant Choudhary said, “It appears the Prime Minister has some plan up his sleeves to assuage the hurt feelings of the masses. He may announce a lucrative scheme in his budget before UP elections.”
The RLD is demanding loan waiver for farmers in the country.
Last time, the Election Commission had announced elections in UP on December 24 in 2012. The seven phase polling had started on February 3 and ended on March 3. Results were out on March 6.
This time, after the demonetisation bombshell, they are too busy arranging new currency to go on a campaign.