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PGV’s narrative adds one more corner to UP elections

By Rakesh Ranjan- 15 Jan 2022
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New Delhi (15.01.2022): The intense campaigning by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra since the politically-charged and highly emotive Lakhimpur incident is seen to have woken up political analysts from their slumber who had earlier predicted only a three-cornered UP 2022 assembly election contest pivoting around BJP, BSP, and SP.

It is now assumed and accepted by most political pundits that the contest could become four-cornered as Priyanka is seen to have gone full-stream in luring women voters with her eye-catching slogan “Ladki hun lad Sakti hun”. While her decision to field the mother of one of the state rape victim's mothers is widely seen as a shrewd maneuver exercise to play up the card of women's safety in the state, her oversight in not fielding the poster girl of the “ladki hun lad sakti hun” campaign might have, according to opposition analysts, reduced the hype of her campaign.

It is said that Priyanka's decision to give 40% tickets to women in the first list of candidates for UP polls might have added high-octane fuel to her campaigning. But UP, like any other state, is a patriarchal society and the value of Priyanka's women-centric political initiative could be determined only after the election.

It's a gamble, even though being a good one. It's also unique in the sense that it's not centered around caste and religion. It's centered around gender. Parties based on social engineering like the BJP, BSP, and SP are sure to counter it with their caste thematic campaigns. So, even while making women the central theme of her campaign, Priyanka may, perforce, have to settle for some caste-based social engineering in selecting women candidates.

It's not yet clear, though, that Priyanka's women-centric maneuver exercise may drive the BJP, BSP, and SP into conceding more tickets to women candidates. When their first lists come out, it would become clear whether Priyanka has been able to make any dent in their political calculus.

As it is, the BJP, BSP, and SP are currently busy embracing travelers from one station to another. It may not be wrong to assume that travelers from the BJP, BSP, and SP in the opposite direction are mostly candidates who have lost hope of getting tickets for themselves and their kith and kin in their parent parties. It could also be that these political travelers may work as trojan horses, or in a more contemporary term, as sleeping cells, for their parent parties to tilt the balance in case of a hung assembly.

As campaigning gets going at full throttle, all accounts and reports flowing from UP villages indicate that the BJP might have done a great disservice to its cause by projecting the incumbent CM as the next CM also. That's because Adityanath is seen to have done nothing to earn the confidence of the rural masses. It's generally talked in UP villages - like earlier in Rajasthan and Bengal - that PM Narendra Modi is all right for the center but, since he can't run UP, it's better to have a state government that cared for them instead of one like of Adityanath focusing on all sorts of extra-curricular activities.

So, it may seem that, for the BJP, the first-mover advantage has really turned into a disadvantage as amplified by the exodus of state ministers and MLAs from its fold to the opposition camp. Whatever might have triggered the exodus has hugely embarrassed and weakened the Party's image of one united unbreakable phalanx. It's caused happy tidings in the opposition and inspired them to further break the phalanx through a number of allurements and promises.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

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