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UP Election 2017: Narendra Modi in Lucknow does an Indira to highlight his standing

With BJP's UP election catchphrase 'Parivartan leyenge, Kamal Khilayenge' shining in the backdrop atop party's lotus symbol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi twisted Indira Gandhi's iconic 1971 slogan to suit his own standing and rhetoric. He set the agenda for upcoming elections in five states where his demonetisation move is the main talking point: "Wo (Congress, SP, BSP, TMC) kahten hai Modi hatao, mai kahta hoon kala dhan hatao, wo kahte hain Modi hatao, mai kahta hoon bhrastachar hatao...desh ki janata ko tai karna hai...(they say remove Modi, I say remove black money, they say remove Modi, I say remove corruption, people of the country have to decide.)"

A mammoth crowd gathered in the huge Ramabai Maidan in Lucknow roared with thunderous applaud. Modi had smartly played his card, which could portray him as a forceful anti-corruption crusader who was not averse to take tough decisions, which has hurt high and mighty corrupt spread across the social spectrum to make the system transparent and fair, to provide better living opportunities to poor and middle class.

Forty six years ago, pitted against the combined might of Congress' motley group of seniors jointly called 'Syndicate' and others in opposition, Indira Gandhi had come out with Garibi Hato slogan: "wo kahten hai Indira hatao, mai kahti hun garibi hatao". The slogan weaved magic for India. Her opponents were thoroughly vanquished.

Turn back to 2016 end and beginning of 2017, Modi is faced with shrill protests by Congress, SP, BSP, TMC, RJD and the Left front on demonetisation. Congress, TMC, BSP have given a call to throw Modi out of office, for they claim that demonetisation is anti-poor and pro-rich move. Modi on his part has built his narrative on anti-corruption, black money, fake currency, hawala and pro-honest, poor and middle class line.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

He taunted two main rival political players in UP taking a common position against demonetisation, against the supposed war on corruption and black money. "Have you seen SP and BSP together? If SP would say sun rising, then BSP would say sun setting but they came together to say change Modi, Modi hatao."

Modi then went on to target all three rival parties which are pitted against BJP in UP — Congress, SP and BSP. Without taking the name of the Congress but clearly referring to it and its vice president Rahul Gandhi, Modi said a party which has no existence in UP has been trying for the last 15 years to establish son (Rahul Gandhi) in politics but that has turned to be a futile exercise..."unki daal galti nahi". Nevertheless, it was still spending all its time and energy on promoting a non-starter.

In a clear reference to Mayawati's BSP, albeit without taking its name, he said there was another party which didn't know where to keep money, it is looking for banks all across the places to park its money. That party was currently focused on singular pursuit of hiding its money. Third party (ruling Samajwadi party) is wasting all its time and energy in fighting its own family war. Modi then urged people to compare and contrast with the BJP, whose only focus was development of state — a party whose only high command was 125 crore people of the country. The BJP does not have to seek blessings from anywhere else than from people of the country.

Talking about the Opposition's opposition to demonetisation, he in his characteristic style said: "Modi paisa le le to bhi pareshan, Modi wo paisa garibo ko de de to bhi pareshan."

What is noteworthy is that this was also an occasion for him to re-build Brahmin-backward social coalition, which once upon a time existed for the BJP. Modi recalled the party's aged and ailing stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee's contributions. Vajpayee still has an emotive connect with people of Lucknow, which he represented for long and with people of UP. In the same vein, Modi talked about Kalyan Singh, BJP's erstwhile backward community face and present Governor of Rajasthan. Rajnath Singh and a long forgotten Ram Prakash Gupta name were also taken to cater to Rajput and Bania community.

With an eye on Dalit constituency, Modi talked at length about Bhim Rao Ambedkar and the new digital payments app BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) which he recently launched. Hitting out at BSP chief Mayawati, Modi said, "why should Bhim app cause stomach ache to some people, I can't understand that."

In his address to nation on 31 December, Modi has catered to his social and political constituency by announcing a slew of measures that could benefit poor and lower middle class, farmers and pregnant women and referred to historical political icons, Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadir Shashtri, Kamraj, JP, Ram Manohar Lohia, Deen Dayal Upadhaya and BR Ambedkar. He didn't name anyone from Nehru Gandhi family, Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi.

Lucknow rally was initially scheduled for 25 December, the birthday of Vajpayee to mark the conclusion of Parivartan rallies in the state but it was later re-scheduled to make it the first big public rally for Modi after 50 days of hardship post demonetisation. A huge gathering of people, counting in lakhs had obviously been gratifying for Modi.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 21:29 PM

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