Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the tone on Monday for the BJP’s campaign for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election, asking voters to choose his development agenda over politics of dynasty and rule of corruption.
His remarks were viewed as a three-pronged attack against the ruling Samajwadi Party and the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress in the state, where the BJP is trying to wrest power after doing remarkably well in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. His party won 73 of the 80 parliamentary seats two years ago.
“The state is afflicted with the evils of dynastic rule, favouritism, casteism and communalism. There is a solution to every problem and that solution is development,” Modi said, addressing a huge crowd at the BJP’s Parivartan rally after its two-day national executive meet here.
He directed his firepower against the party headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose son Akhilesh is the chief minister, accusing the SP government of “goonda raj” or lawlessness.
The Prime Minister asked the people of the state to adopt vikasvaad, meaning development, which is the BJP’s primary calling card for this election.
“If UP is developed no one can stop India from reaching the number one spot in the world,” he said, promising to take the state 50 years ahead in five years of BJP rule.
The message follows a publicity blitzkrieg by India’s ruling party and the government to showcase its welfare schemes and the country emerging as a “bright spot” in the world economy despite global recession.
Modi accused the SP and Mayawati’s BSP of fooling the people by conniving with each other to rule the state alternately every five years. “This is their jugalbandi (duet),” he said.
Mayawati, whose government was besieged with corruption charges, ruled the state for two terms before the SP.
Modi’s blistering attack against the Akhilesh Yadav government comes in the backdrop of a bloody clash in Mathura after police action against a land grabber and the alleged exodus of Hindu families from Kairana town.
It was clear from the Prime Minister’s speech that the BJP’s campaign for next year’s election will also revolve around the alleged lawlessness in the state. Party chief Amit Shah said as much at the national executive on Sunday that increasing violence in Uttar Pradesh was a “serious concern”.
Modi didn’t spare the Congress either, referring obliquely the alleged policy paralysis during the previous UPA government. “In the past two years, the BJP government launched several schemes and took major decisions, which the previous government failed to do as corruption and loot were on its agenda,” he said.
The Prime Minister also played the BJP’s conscious keeper, preaching seven mantras for party leaders at the national executive. He suggested Sevabhav (service), Santulan (balance), Sanyam (patience), Samanvay (coordination), Sakaratmakta (positivity), Samvedna (sympathy) and Samvad (dialogue) to define their conduct and policies.
“People are not satisfied with mere sloganeering. They are concerned about how the country is being strengthened,” Modi told BJP members at the national executive.
The sermon on personal conduct coincides with the resignation of senior Maharashtra politician Eknath Khadse over corruption charge, division in the Uttar Pradesh BJP over chief-ministerial candidate and controversial statements by senior leaders embarrassing the party.
Khadse is the first casualty to corruption charges in the BJP camp after Modi swept the 2014 polls, riding high on the promise to deliver a corruption-free government. He is aware any slip could be detrimental for him in 2019.
(With inputs from Kumar Uttam and K Sandeep Kumar)