Even through the foggy weather and murky politics that engulfs the battleground Uttar Pradesh, you can broadly make out contours of the big picture: The BJP is catching up to challenge the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
There are several reasons why this is happening despite the fact that people, who continue to be at the receiving end of the cash crunch, particularly in rural areas, are getting increasingly disenchanted with demonetisation: First, the anti-BJP forces are in a state of disarray. Second, the Muslim vote-bank is getting divided. And third, the otherwise young, energetic poster-boy of the SP – Akhilesh Yadav – appears to be losing steam mid-way, thanks to opposing cross-currents within his family.
Remember, the scars of the war within the Samajwadi Party were split open once again earlier this week when Akhilesh Yadav took his list of poll candidates for all the 403 constituencies to party supremo Mulayam Singh for his approval. The move infuriated state party president, Shivpal Singh Yadav, who gave enough hints that he might retaliate with disciplinary action. Mulayam, on his part, stayed aloof. He is still maintaining silence on the issue.
One thing is clear: The chief minister’s move means that all chances of the SP and the Congress getting together to fight the BJP jointly have evaporated into thin air. And by implication, it also means that Muslim vote bank would now be divided among three claimants – SP, BSP and Congress.
Understandably, Mayawati who had thus far been marching ahead of others on the Muslim front, especially in Western Uttar Pradesh, looks at the new development with suspicion. Holding a different theory altogether, she had said last week: “An alliance between Congress and SP can take place only if the BJP approves it... It’s being stated that the BJP is exerting pressure on SP chief and his family through Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department and CBI to join hands with the Congress to divide Muslim votes and stop BSP from coming to power, otherwise, why should Akhilesh Yadav be so keen on a tie-up with a party which has been put on oxygen in the state?”
One must read between the lines — Mayawati’s statement makes it clear that a bigger chunk of the Muslim vote bank would go to the SP-Congress alliance, should it materialise out of thin air. But it hasn’t. Now, you can understand why the BJP looks more confident than ever before. Hardly ten days ago was the saffron camp seen struggling against the current in the face of widespread criticism over demonetisation? At a crucial meeting of different offshoots of the Sangh Parivar in Lucknow on 16 December, the RSS affiliates had told the BJP to "raise the cash flow to UP fast or, else, delay the polls."
It's significant that a number of top guns of the RSS and BJP including Duttatreya Hosabale, Krishnagopal, Ramlal, Shiv Prakash, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Sunil Bansal attended this meeting. Nobody had minced words while giving feedback on demonetisation and how it affected people in rural areas: “The initial happiness that was visible among middle classes is dissipating fast. Now, people are getting critical as banks and ATMs report shortage of cash. If things are allowed to prolong like this, BJP’s poll prospects would be impacted adversely.”
But much water has flown down the Gomti since this meeting was held. While the SP has yet to put forward a united show in right earnest, the BSP is seen being pulled down by a new controversy over its cash deposits in banks. Soon after alleged reports of irregularities in BSP’s bank accounts surfaced, Mayawati called a press conference to clarify her position. She said: “All this money belongs to the party. And all the deposits were made following due procedures. It’s the BJP that is misusing official machinery to malign the BSP.”
With both the SP and the BSP mired in a mess, it is hardly surprising if stars are beginning to smile on BJP – not because the cash situation has eased but because the opposing parties look less promising. Indeed, in politics and chess, you win because your opponent loses. In other words, you cannot win unless your opponent errs, falters or gets careless.
That’s the name of the game.
Updated Date: Dec 28, 2016 13:57:55 IST