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OPINION

Modi opponents hope to thwart him through money power and caste arithmetic but they are in for a shock

That’s the only hope they have and this is not the opinion of an armchair political analyst. I’ve just returned from a tour of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. I have a fairly good understanding of how elections are fought and won in these hinterlands of UP.

Is there a Namo wave? It’s not a wave actually. You can predict a wave. You cannot predict a tsunami. Did you notice how it devastated Japan? None had any inkling of the impending doom until it hit the shores of Japan.

And if Modi opponents are relying a bit too heavily on their caste arithmetic and the power to buy votes en masse, they are committing a grave error. The Modi vote this time is as silent as the Muslim vote. Its power and impact will only be demonstrated on the counting day.

However, Mulayam Singh has left no stone unturned to win this election. Thousands of crores have been distributed overnight to the regime’s favorite contractors to construct roads in spite of the Model Code of Conduct. This is how Mulayam Singh funds his election machinery. Some road laying work has also been done. If Mulayam thinks that’s good enough to assuage people’s anger and blunt Modi’s ‘development’ weapon, he is wrong.

Mulayam relies on the Muslim/Yaadav electoral equation. The problem is everyone else also is aware of this arithmetic, especially the other intermediate castes. Mulayam’s overzealous attempts to appease Muslims has not gone down well with the Yaadavs, especially the young among them who understand the difference between a Parliamentary election and that of a state assembly very well. They too have a stake in the future of our nation.  They anyway feel like second-rate citizens vis-à-vis Muslims. They can see that the Mulayam government works first for Netaji’s family, and next for Aazam’s family and Muslims. The Ahir community, like all Hindus, is at the bottom of the pecking order. Muslims have access to all kinds of grants and funds in UP, Hindus don’t.

Mayavati picks up candidates who are rich. The BSP tickets in UP are auctioned. For instance, the BSP candidate in Salempur is the grand-nephew of Chandra Shekhar, the ex-PM. He is known as Pappu Singh. He is the one who was arrested in a murder case and Chandra Shekhar disowned him but at the same time ensured he got released. He used his good relationship with Laloo Yaadav for that. I have known Pappu since he was a toddler. He has grown very rich and powerful. He is part of the Dhanbad coal mafia now. Many of Chandra Shekhar’s relatives got into the coal business thanks to his friendship with Surajdeo Singh, the don of the Dhanbaad mafia, the first one in India to be called so. He was from Ballia.

There is a rumor that Pappu Singh is all set to distribute over Rs. 3 crores to buy votes. This is apart from the money he has paid Mayavati. According to my rough estimate, Mayavati must have collected not less than Rs. 400 crores in these elections through ticket auctions. Politics is good business for her. She trades in her captive ‘dalit’ vote bank. She has given them honor and has used pre-existing laws that deal with violence against ‘dalits’ more effectively, read in a draconian manner. However, even a ‘dalit’ voter is looking for some development and he/she can see that Muslims are encroaching on their turf. A number of ‘dalit’ Hindus were at the receiving end of the Jihadi violence in the aftermath of the Muzzafarnagar riots.

I have a feeling that the younger generation has taken a fascination to Modi and his development plank. It’ also well connected with the rest of the world through digital devices. The Hindu youth have a fairly good understanding of vote bank politics now. They can sense the polarization of Muslims against Modi and they are reacting to it silently without being too vocal. They think such polarization is not justified and it’s also an attempt to spite Hindus. They cannot tolerate the idea of Muslim jubilation over Modi’s failure. They also feel the pain of appeasement politics quite acutely.  

The vote bank politicians don’t realize this phenomenon and continue to indulge in an intense competition to hurl the choicest of epithets at Modi to win over the Muslim vote bank in an attempt to consolidate their ‘winning’ electoral equation.

Combine this with the absolute lack of development and rampant grassroots corruption in the states run by the secularists and you will know what works for Modi. For instance, UP is a hellhole today if you compare it with Gujarat or even Maharashtra. It has nearly reached a point of no return in terms of rising crime graph, rampant corruption, and complete absence of the will to govern judiciously and serve the lay public. Mayavati and Mulayam have equally contributed to the despairing scenario by making the bureaucracy subservient to their party cause.  

So, I have a feeling that money and caste will have no role to play in these elections if they are held fairly and squarely.

The only hurdle in the way of the Modi tsunami is the EC and if it plays foul. If it does, people should be ready to take to the streets to save democracy and our nation.

Rajesh Kumar Singh