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Why it’s not just the Modi wave

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Akhilesh Shukla
Akhilesh Shukla
More Bharatiya than normal Indian :) A Non Resident Indian, whose soul wanders around Bharat Varsh!! A Project Management & Project Controls professional; interests in History, Society & Geo Political events. I'm generally "right' of the right-of-the-centre :)

Before you start calling me names going by the title of this blog, a leftist, a leftlib or any anti-Modi jargon much prevalent in social media these day, let me tell you I was equally delighted, overjoyed in fact, on 11th March 2017 as I did on 16th May 2014. Equally, to other side of warring SM warriors, I’ll detest being called a Bhakt or Sanghi  for sharing my joy on BJP being elected to office in UP. It’s simple; I believe BJP is the best option among the political alternatives available at this moment. Additionally I was waiting for this to happen for last two decades, for, I despise dirty caste politics of SP & BSP.

Section of media is going gaga over Modi’s wave in UP to the extent that some are calling it Modi Wave, Modi Tsunami and what not. Let me put forth some ground realities direct from bottommost echelons of UP.

This is, unambiguously, one of its kind, unimaginably socking to many, and biggest single party victory in recent days. This is remarkable without doubt, especially in these days, in last three decades of hung assemblies and coalition politics. However, let’s not forget that Congress (Nehru) got 388 seats in 1951/52 election, Janta party got 352 seats in 1977 elections and Congress (Indira) got 309 seat in 1980 Vidhan Sabha elections. We all know reasons behind all three, above, instances of 300+ seats to one party as we need to understand, honestly, the rationales behind the current upsurge by BJP in 2017 UP state elections.

Pundits, including the TV studio experts, are giving their verdict as per their political affiliation naming it wave to tsunami or whatever. To me, it’s plain and simple anguish & frustration of ordinary public seething for last seven decades, a simmering volcano which erupts as suitable conditions coincide.

Take a moment, remove your expert hat, and think from the mindset of an ordinary UP native.

Abject poverty

UP was the action field during freedom movement, setting the direction of national politics as it still does, and in return it got a PM Nehru from UP. With strong and stable administrations in initial days (decades) with backing of Centre, UP should have been developed faster. But, what actually happened, thanks to successive incompetent Congress state governments and imprudent oversight by Nehru, UP remained one of the most backward states in India. So much so that Indira Gandhi had to resort to ‘Garibi Hatao’ sloganeering in 70’s.

How absurd it was, while they (Congress) were the reason of abject poverty of the state, Indira Gandhi was selling the ‘Garibi Hatao’ (Eradicate Poverty) slogan once again. People believed her, was there a reason not to?. Indira Gandhi in her almost two decades’ rule, except eradicating poverty of the state, did everything  including imposing infamous emergency, manipulating constitution, institutionalizing corruption, spreading cancer of nepotism in Indian polity, sowing seeds of dynasty politics, to name a few.

That was first betrayal to ordinary public of UP. It didn’t stop there though. Just after short, quarrel-some, stint of Janta party, Rajiv Gandhi was once again visiting  bylanes of UP selling ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan. Bottom-line was, UP remained a BIMARU state. While other states were leaving such depressing BIMARU tag and marching to development, UP was engulfed, for next two decades, in caste politics of SP & BSP.

Visit any town of UP, except ‘ruler’s enclaves of Lucknow and NCR influenced pockets of Noida, one can see filthiest streets, utter lawlessness, and glimpse of hopelessness. It wasn’t a surprise when UP Govt’s website, recently, indicated state’s development indices akin to sub-Saharan countries.

Suffocating Secularism

For the sake of saving space, I will leave how Congress, especially Indira Gandhi and later her dynasty, institutionalized pseudo-secularism, and started trend of vote bank politics. What we saw in recent few years, in the state of UP, is extremity of fake secularism. Rather it was bribing, in open day light, to a vote bank group, to the level of shameless aggravation of rest of the society. Successive governments of SP & BSP were competing on who can further the doles more than the previous ones. For almost same suffering, when one victim from a vote-bank group gets 4 to 8 times more ex gratia by state government than to another victim from non-vote bank group of less mortals, you think people don’t react to it? They do!

When SP Patriarch proclaims, rather proudly, how he ordered to kill Ram bhakts during Ayodhya movement to appease a certain group of vote bank, pain, anguish and retribution is certain.

There’s series of events, more so in last 5 years of SP rule, of discriminatory benefits to one section of society based on one’s faith and not based on one’s economic hardship. The reaction is bound to happen, without fail-sooner or later.

Thanks to ‘pseudo-secularized’ media the reality of such disparity, appalling governance policies and consequential angst of ordinary public never sees light of the day. It however smolders beneath the ‘Chalta hai’ posture and once a credible alternative is presented to them people, the majority, pay back with interest.

Inept Law & Order

Even after court’s stern dictate, police could not locate & arrest sitting Minister/MLA of ruling SP accused of rape for almost a month, while this man (Gaytri Prajapati) was provided police protection, campaigning in elections and enjoying company of Chief Minister. Within days of BJP winning the election, however, this Minister is arrested from the capital Lucknow itself. This is just one story similar to many stories of horrendous law & order status of the State. It’s no secret that law & order was held hostage by the SP goons.

Rest of the country may not be aware, thanks to biased media, about the rumors (facts which ordinary public is well aware of) that attempts were made to ensure that each office of any significance (read: where corruption is possible), has at least one of their own people (the Y of their pet MY combo) occupying the maaldaar seat.

Police stations greatly influence day to day lives of ordinary public in the state, and it was asserted on record by no less than the SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav about his intent to have specific representation in each police station by his pet vote bank community. While in reality Police Thanas were influenced, if not solely controlled, by SP goons, majorly by a specific caste belonging ruling SP.

One of the primary reasons of SP losing previous election in 2007 was their bad record in law & order and Gundagardi.  Blatant misuse of law & order machinery in the state, by SP political workers, their goons of YM combination is well known. People may not react, for fear of backlash by ruling party and their goons, but such naked breach of governance never goes unnoticed- reaction is inevitable.

Dismal Development

I won’t go to numbers; they’re drearily horrifying in UP in almost all Human Development Indices, but just quote two anecdotes.

In 1950s UP use to produce almost 60% of India’ GDP and now it’s share to national GDP is in  single digit. It clearly shows, while rest of India was marching towards development thanks to their local leadership, UP was terribly neglected in past seven decades.

Story of Kanpur, the leading Industrial town of last gone era turning to jobless town, is intriguing. Till late 80s, Kanpur was the place to go for employment. Youth in central UP, even from wider spreads of UP, had a last resort to elope to Kanpur for job. Irrespective of whether or not it was Manchester of East, it (Kanpur) had great sights in evenings; roads use to be full of factory workers, mainly cyclists and few Bajaj scooters, bazars were happening places, businesses were booming. Various mills, Lal Imli to Elgin mills and many more, were lifeline of this lively and vibrant city. Over time, all mills, one by one, were closed, thanks to incompetent and insensitive governments of the day. Workers lost their jobs and a lively city lost the luster. Today no wonder this city of over 3 million (30lakhs) population is one among world’s dirtiest cities.

People who know things about NTC mills closures and politics behind it will vouch for apathy of local political class, absurd negligence by responsible administrators and criminal negligence by governments of the day.

It’s not the only case of disastrous development, but almost all cities, towns have similar stories.

Millions of youth every year join the work force with no job opportunities available to them. To add to misery, majority of them are unemployable thanks to crumbled education system in the State. No one wants to leave one’s place to move to Mumbai, Delhi or Gujrat in search of an employment, but hard fact is, majority of UP youth is out of state for a livelihood. Shameless leaders, who governed UP in past, fail to understand the anguish of youth.

When Modi, as he did in 2014, articulates how he can bring jobs to UP, as he evidently has done in Gujarat, he instantly touches the hearts and minds of youth, many of them must have seen the development in BJP ruled states. Roars of Modi-Modi by these youth are, hence, no fluke but reality which people fail to grasp.

Take any sphere of development in UP- irrigation system, education system, roads and transports, electricity, local administration, each of them is frustrating demonstration of negligence by the ruling governments.

What ordinary public observed over the time, not a new canal systems or developing the infrastructure but evolution of various political dynasties and how they got richer.

Deep-rooted Corruption

The institutionalization of corruption which started in 70s has now grown to the level that it is not even socially labeled as a bad deed. People specially government employees who’re non corrupt, miniscule numbers though, are known as outdated or devoid of ‘opportunity’. Corruption has indeed ingrained in system, culpability however lies with society in general, and with  political class in particular.

Once it would have been known as ‘under-table’ practice but now there is nothing under the table but everything in over the table in open. Gangotri of corruption flows from top, yes from very top of the system. And, if anyone has a doubt about it, just observe an MLA or a minister who starts the political career with a motorcycle but within years in power he owns Toyotas.

This news item is wholly relevant, in all aspect, to UP’s political system-

Gayatri Prajapati: BPL card holder till 2012, millionaire in 4 years, and now, gangrape accused

Auction of police Thanas, ‘Maaldaar posts in Kamau departments, certain Kamau forest ranges,  Kamau RTO offices and many more may be just the rumor, in absence of proof, while everyone on the streets of UP knows about it.

Ever wondered why politicians crave for a certain PWD ministry, or Revenue ministry and not Child & Women development ministry? Politically correct answer to it may be, greater opportunity to serve people but in reality, which everyone knows,  is that these ministries have enormous budgets which means greater opportunity to make money, corrupt money.

Going jokes in various state PSUs, especially dealing with construction, is that fixed percent of bribe is the legitimate right of the engineer or babu. Real corruption is when they (contractors and engineers) ‘execute’ something one paper and not on ground and get paid for it.

So when you see a road can’t stand a single monsoon, or a PSU constructed house leaks, you know corruption has swallowed it all.

I bet, writing on corruption in state PSUs will result in a mammoth epic; I’ll spare that. Nonetheless if anyone is interested to enjoy open, naked, daylight bribery sessions, just visit any of RTO offices, you won’t be disappointed.

Situation of UP, with respect to progress and aspiration of people, is indeed miserable; however I will leave that for later and move on to this election.

Ordinary public of UP was yearning for a change, a better alternative than already tested & failed SP & BSP regimes. I find three catalysts, in addition to underlying frustration & angst as stated above, to bring in this electoral change –

  1. There’s an uncanny psychology of people ‘not to waste their vote’, means, vote for the ‘winning party’ only. BSP was clear winner till even six months back, proof of which is long queues at Behenji’s house with suitcases. BJP however, similar to 2014 strategy, continued their social engineering. Non-Jatav SCs, non-Yadav OBSc were successfully collaborated. Rather, this social reorientation was never stopped by grass root BJP workers. Supporting caste based parties like SBSP, & Apna dal , glorifying Raja Suheldev & Bijli Pasi, or poaching disgruntled non-jatav dalit and non-Yadav OBC leaders was sustained approach of the BJP. Amit shah must be appreciated for positioning BJP as an alternative, consciously letting voters know that their votes are for winners, not losers.
  1. In a society where politicians are generally castigated, Modi brings a rare Honesty of purpose, a proven record of deliverance (thanks to his Gujrat stint), and a fresh lease of hope to future. While he has yet to deliver most of his promises, his integrity is indisputable to people who matter, the ordinary folks. Demonetization was such a master stroke, aimed at the ordinary voters, giving them sense of (a) momentary reprisal to rich, (b) him being ‘strong’ leader they always looked-for. Give me a strong leader, let me ‘feel’ the power, I can wait for prosperity longer- that’s psychology, that’s history. Indira Gandhi was forgiven more than once, one of the reason was, she’s was strong, atleast that is what was portrayed.
  1. Other factors too supplemented in getting such electoral outcome, like over dramatization of Yadav Family feud, and a triangular contest which ensured division of pseudo secular ‘vote-bank’ votes.

It is debatable if 40% vote share can be called as a wave, or tsunami; for me it’s not.

It’s just aspirations of people of UP, riding on Modi’s charisma, seeking a better living, a better future for their kids. For them, it was Wave of  New India in 1951/52, a wave of Change for Good in 1977, a wave of Revised Promises in 1980, sadly all them resulted in despair, angst and frustration. After 37 years, once again people of UP reposed their faith on credibility of Modi. Let Darbaris continue their praise to the skies, I am sure, Mr. Modi knows the gravity of these aspirations, and his promises.

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Akhilesh Shukla
Akhilesh Shukla
More Bharatiya than normal Indian :) A Non Resident Indian, whose soul wanders around Bharat Varsh!! A Project Management & Project Controls professional; interests in History, Society & Geo Political events. I'm generally "right' of the right-of-the-centre :)
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