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Misgovernance amidst pandemic: Will UP go out of BJP hand following WB drubbing?

By Haider Abbas* 

The deplorable medical conditions in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and overall in the country has been all in the making for quite some time. As we sit in big cities, we do have access to social media news and have a clue of ‘things-around’, but condition have turned far worse in small villages, qasbas and districts, where people are dying in large numbers due to the new variant of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, media houses and channels, with one or two exceptions, have rallied to eulogise Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is hardly a news anchor who questions as to why PM is getting his palace built for Rs 13,500 crore despite the havoc of rising death toll. Understandably, the official machinery is hell-bent to falsify the death figures. In Kanpur (UP) for as many of 476 dead bodies in a single day the official figure showed up only 3 deaths.
There is reason to wonder: Why did the UP government help organize Kumbh when it was possible to gauge that a large number of returnees from Kumbh would become Corona positive! The palpable atmosphere surrounding the country is so horrendous that Adar Poonawala, the owner of Serum Institute of India, which makes the largest number of Covid vaccine, was afraid that his ‘head would be chopped-off’ if he spoke about Kumbh and the polls before he flew to England.
It would not be a euphemism that had Election Commission (EC), which clearly bowed to BJP, had not helped BJP in West Bengal, the tally of BJP wouldn't have been more than 20. The average victory margin of BJP is 14,010 votes while Trinamool Congress’ (TMC's) is 31,769 votes as TMC romped home with 213 of 294 seats under its charismatic leader Mamta Banerjee. TMC finished second in 75 seats while BJP won 74.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has been awarded a place in ‘Palacio Do Cabo’, as Governor to Goa, on the same lines as Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi got his slice of pie in the form of Rajya Sabha for his Ram Temple verdict. Arora danced to the tunes of BJP to organize West Bengal (WB) elections in eight phases, while in Tamil Nadu, a state of almost an equal size, it was single day, as BJP knew it would not to win against the Dravidian parties.
Indeed, BJP is brazenly bringing down constitutional institutions. Wasn’t it long enough when five Supreme Court judges, including Gogoi, cried for ‘democracy at stake’ in 2018? Ironically, Rahul Gandhi floundered and could not turn it into a public-outcry, and BJP, despite such an unprecedented event, cruised to victory in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
BJP in WB had the agenda of ‘Asol-Parivartan’. To quote Modi from his February 22 speech , ‘BJP ki sarkar, sirf satta mein, sirf satta mein ( twice) parivartan ke liyein nahi, balki Asol parivartan ( real-change) ke liyein banana hai, asol parivartan, balki yehan kamal khilana is liyein jaroori hai taki paschim Bengal ki istithi mein who asol parivartan aa sake jiski ummed mein aaj ka naujawan jee raha hai’ .
Everyone knows what Modi meant by real-change, as, after all, BJP was found in the company of the corrupts like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Malya etc., all of whom could never have dared to leave the country (with billions) without the knowledge of BJP. People in WB got a whiff of Modi's real-change, when on April 10 Central Industrial Security Force jawans entered the polling booth and gunned down four Muslim youths -- all TMC workers.
The Muslim presence broadly in WB is around 30% and the overwhelming majority of Muslims live in its six-districts which encompass 118 of 141 seats where there is considerable Muslim presence out of total of 294 seats. Interestingly, these 118 seats cover around 61% of the Muslim population and also 40.13% of the total seats.
Modi, who represents Benaras, did not visit his constituency, but instead visited West Bengal for 17 times as coronavirus mercilessly spread its tentacles
Clearly, Muslims overwhelmingly voted for TMC, due to which it bagged 120 seats. TMC, therefore, was always to be comfortable for a 100 plus tally with Muslim support. Muslims voting en masse for TMC tilted the fortunes in its favour. BJP, which had bludgeoned its utmost resources supported by its virulent communal campaign (which is all what BJP could offer), had to cut a sorry figure. While Muslims heavily tilted towards TMC, large sections of Hindus, women, Leftists, communists, and fence-sitters also voted for TMC. Of the 42 Muslim candidates fielded by TMC, 41 won.
The news back home, in UP, which is where BJP apparently seems to be most powerful, is also not very encouraging. Modi, who represents Benaras (Kashi), did not visit his constituency, but instead visited WB for 17 times between February and April, despite coronavirus mercilessly spreading its tentacles there. This was enough for all to see as to where his priorities lie.
The reflection of people’s mood can be ascertained, as the results of UP panchayat polls show a drubbing for BJP in Kashi, too. BJP could win only 8 while Samajwadi Party (SP) won 24 seats out of 40 seats. In Mathura, another BJP stronghold, BJP won 8 out of 40 seas while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won 12 and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won 9 seats. In Ayodhya, which is the stamp image of BJP, it finished with just 6 while SP won 24 of 40 seats.
During my Last visit to Benaras I asked someone if Modi has transformed the city into Singapore; he replied to not even Jaunpur! In fact, the situation is UP is far worse than Brazil. There is a public outburst against the government, which is shifting the blame on to the ‘system’ while thousands of funeral-pyres are lit on footpaths everywhere, from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur, even as there is utter lack of medical infrastructure, including availability of oxygen. Yet, anyone trying to highlight such poor state of affairs invited the the threat of seizure of property!
Let’s see what happens in the 2022 UP elections despite the wherewithal of the ultimate communal vehemence of BJP.
---
*Former UP State Information Commissioner and political analyst

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