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Heartland politics finds lively expression

TALKING POINT Politicians and a professor delve into the poll issues at Facebook Live session at HT office

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 31, 2019 12:04 IST
Team HT
Team HT
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
vote,lok sabha elections,narendra modi
India: Political discussion [ Abhishek Mishra, Dr Neeraj Bora, Prof Ravikant, Aradhana Mishra ] at HT OFFICE, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India on Saturday (Dheeraj Dhawan/Hindustan Times)

Two serving lawmakers, one of them a professional doctor and the other holding a postgraduate degree in human rights, along with an ex-lawmaker and a dalit professor from Lucknow University, were at the Hindustan Times office in Lucknow for a Facebook Live session.

Representing different mainstream political parties, Dr Neeraj Bora, BJP MLA from Lucknow (North) assembly constituency, Aradhana Mishra, the Congress MLA from Rampur Khaas, Abhishek Mishra, ex-minister and national secretary of the Samajwadi Party, along with Professor Ravi Kant from Lucknow University, discussed how politics was shaping up in the heartland and where the 2019 LS polls are headed. They also spoke about the plummeting discourse in public life, if Congress and the SP-BSP-RLD alliance fighting separately was advantage for the BJP and answered queries on if Congress leaders like Priyanka Gandhi visiting Ayodhya was 'soft Hindutva'?

Even oppn leaders visiting temples now: Bora

Dr Neeraj Bora, the doctor-politician from Lucknow (north) assembly segment, said the BJP altered politics of the country with even opposition leaders beginning to visit temples.

Responding to queries at HT’s Facebook Live programme, Bora referred to the Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s Ayodhya and Vindhyavasini visits. He said, “It’s been after a long-long time that any member of Nehru Gandhi family chose to visit Vindhyavasini Devi temple or Ayodhya. We are very happy about this development.”

He said, “Now even the Samajwadi Party has started talking of building a Lord Vishnu temple.”

To the opposition charge that BJP has no copyright on Lord Ram, the lawmaker said, “Fine, but why are they so circumspect on Vande Matram? In the BJP, recitation of Vande Matram is a must at all our functions but why don’t other political parties follow a similar thing?”

Counting various achievements of the Modi government, he said, “From Ujjawala cooking gas scheme to Ayushman Bharat, the free medical insurance scheme for the poor, the achievements of BJP government are immense.”

Rebutting the opposition charge that PM Modi’s gesture to wash the feet of Dalit sanitary workers at the Kumbh was a gimmick, the BJP lawmaker said, “Why didn’t any other politician think of this? The PM’s gesture at the Kumbh was significant because it showed to the Dalits, who really respects and cares for them. Isn’t it a fact that only BJP helped create and preserve identities associated with Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. Why couldn’t others think of toilets for the poor? Modiji did.”

“In over 55 years of Congress rule at the centre, there had been various cases of corruption. Please tell me even one during BJP’s tenure. We practise clean politics and that’s why our ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ (campaign) has received such an overwhelming response from the masses,” he said.

On BJP leaders reportedly using foul language, said, “Let me ask you who started calling PM ‘neech’ (lowly), who called him a ‘chaiwala’ and who is now running a derogatory ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ campaign?”

People have decided to vote for change: Mishra

Samajwadi Party leader Abhishek Mishra on Saturday said voters, not political leaders, decided the outcome of elections. Mishra was discussing the prospects of his party during a Facebook Live session at the Hindustan Times office in Lucknow.

“People are extremely unhappy and angry with the functioning of the government and they have decided to vote for change this time,” Mishra said.

The Samajwadi Party won only five seats in the last general elections. It faced another major defeat in the assembly elections of 2017. This time, the Samajwadi Party has formed an alliance with its long-time rival Bahujan Samaj Party to put up a formidable front against the BJP.

“The prime minister has taken credit (for work done by) the army and even scientists to push forward propaganda. But people of this country have realised that all this is merely propaganda to return to power,” said Mishra. He attacked the BJP government for encroaching on the rights of the downtrodden and people from backward communities. Mishra, who is also the SP general secretary, also spoke on the failure to include Congress in the alliance.

He said, “It is a matter of understanding between national presidents of two political parties. The alliance was formed as per the advice of our party workers.” He attacked the BJP for taking in turncoats from other parties. “It is an irony that BJP leader accuse opposition parties of forming alliances when their party is part of the biggest political alliance in the country.”

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 12:04 IST

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