Pankaj Singh | June 5, 2014
Nothing is as humbling an experience as an intense election campaign when you try to convince and mobilise voters to a cause. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country in terms of population, is as wide in geographical expanse as it is complex and diverse in its social tapestry. Western UP is distinctly different from central UP while Ruhailkhand is culturally different from Bundelkhand. Eastern UP which is politically critical can itself be divided into distinctly different zones on linguistic basis. Yet the response of voters across such a varied state was an unequivocal endorsement of the BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular.
Not long ago, the same electorate had unseated the Mayawati government, which was largely perceived to be a corrupt regime, and gave a clear mandate to young Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav. People did see hope in Akhilesh and trusted him with a belief that he would not follow the beaten path and chart out his own course to provide an effective administration to governance-starved Uttar Pradesh.
Two years may or may not be a long time in politics but it is certainly enough for people of the state to see through their rulers. They realised much soon that the new regime was nothing but a poor copy of the past regimes of the SP and the BSP – mired in corruption, casteism and communalism. Riots after riots shook the state even as criminals ruled the roost. Governance was shortchanged for myopic political considerations.
As a resident of Uttar Pradesh, I am acutely pained by travails through which people of UP have been passing. In these depressing times, the elections of 2014 came as a mood-lifter. Right from the beginning of the campaign, it became evident that the Modi magic was quite overpowering across the entire state. The reasons were not far to seek. A 20 crore population was fed up with the old and worn-out rhetoric of caste and communalism and yearning for development and prosperity.
Given Modi’s track record in Gujarat, people looked at him as a leader whose credibility, honesty and efficiency were unquestioned. With price rise affecting people’s lives and scandals becoming a routine affair, he was seen as a leader who can free India of these maladies. I campaigned intensely in the entire state as a BJP worker and found it an instructive experience. Millions who thronged to Modi’s rallies all over the state were not well-fed or affluent people. They belonged to social strata which may be numerically significant but economically marginalised. They see election as the only opportunity to articulate their voice and realise their aspirations.
As a political worker, it was quite distressing to see a large section of society still deprived of basic amenities despite six decades of independence. But what is really heartening is to see that such a poverty-stricken mass puts immense faith and trust in democracy. If a politician fails them, they are ready to change them by expressing themselves through the ballot. In UP that was exactly what had happened. People defied casteist and communal calculations and voted for a future which promises prosperity bereft of corruption and good governance. That people have a greater stake to invest in a bright future was evident in the biggest-ever turnout at the polling booths across the state. For the first time, the enfranchisement evoked a religious fervor as people regarded voting as pious and bounden patriotic duty to elect a government. Modi symbolised the future.
In such a setting, the BJP’s victory on 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats must be seen as a precursor to a major churning that is going on in the country’s largest state. Fed up with wily politics of self-perpetuation of the Congress, BSP and SP, people are definitely looking for a viable option which can respond to their aspiration. Those who betrayed people’s trust would be in for a greater shock when UP goes for state assembly elections.
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