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UP merry-go-round leaves voters dizzy

PTI | ByVinod Sharma, Lucknow/allahabad
May 04, 2004 12:49 PM IST

Glaring contradictions in the BJP?s election campaign and that of its political rivals have left the voters confused. The discerning among them ask: Who?s the NDA?s prime ministerial candidate?

Glaring contradictions in the BJP’s election campaign and that of its political rivals have left the voters confused in Uttar Pradesh. The discerning among them ask: Who’s the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or his unnamed, yet well-known successor?

HT Image
HT Image

The Prime Minister, whose “good” governance is the BJP’s main plank, has been heard lamenting that at times his voice has gone unheard in his own party. Just a day after seeking a two-thirds majority at a public meeting in Allahabad, he shared his ‘retirement plans’ with the electorate in Lucknow.

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It isn’t unusual for political leaders to shift positions, depending on the audience and the occasion. But these tactics aren’t working in the IT age. And with a section of the voters, it’s even proving to be counter-productive.

What exactly is it all about, elections or a power struggle within the BJP? The question cropped up frequently across central and eastern UP as one hit the road towards Barabanki, Kaiserganj, Bahraich, Akbarpur, Faizabad, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur.

In the Ganga-Gomti Express between Lucknow and Allahabad, some people sat debating the elections: Vajpayee’s himayatis among the Muslims, the SP’s unease, BSP leader Mayawati’s share of the minority vote, her largely steadfast Dalit base and the long haul awaiting the Congress despite signs of ground-level revival in UP.

Given their conflicting predilections, participants in such impromptu discussions mostly agreed to disagree. But even inveterate BJP sympathisers found it difficult to digest the party’s feel-good slogan.

Driving through UP’s power-starved countryside, a Mumbai-based chartered accountant was furious with the national media for its “mindless propagation” of economic indices, which have no bearing on life away from metropolitan India.

In Allahabad, Shekhar Suman’s fan following has gone up with the promos of his latest show. “He’s a spoof-master. But he makes a serious point by adding up the brief hours for which small towns get electricity, to rubbish official claims of 16-hours a day power supply,” remarked M.M. Faridi, a railway employee. He then wondered whether Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s arrival in UP was another instance of the PM’s isolation within his party.

Faridi couldn’t be blamed for being sarcastic. On a private TV channel, he had heard Kalyan Singh promise Kaiserganj Muslims “a tolerant India of the dreams of Vajpayee and Arif Mohammad Khan”.

Having made much of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s tacit understanding with the BJP, the Congress now would have people believe that he’s on the secular side of the political divide. Where exactly does this place Mayawati in Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s scheme of things?

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