Monday, November 10, 2014

Modi will Create History .......Power & Politics /The Sunday Standard/ November 09, 2014

Modi offers prayers at the Assi Ghat in Varanasi

Modi Will Create History if he Succeeds in Making People of Uttar Pradesh Accept a Gujju as Saviour

Poverty is often the petri dish of power. Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s most deprived states, but politically, the most powerful. Every seventh Lok Sabha MP is from there. Before Narendra Modi became the PM, eight of India’s 13 PMs were from UP. Since Independence, they have collectively ruled the nation for 47 years. For Modi, the ninth PM to be elected from UP, the state’s political numerology is significant. Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the BJP’s first PM, because one-third of BJP Lok Sabha members came from UP. In 2014, the party won a record number 0f 71 seats. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first PM, and Modi, the present PM, are both from the state. Other PMs who were launched in UP were Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, Charan Singh, Chandrasekhar and Vishwanath Pratap Singh.

Last week, various parties and leaders, including Modi, initiated moves aimed at acquiring dominance over UP. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, fearing the total decimation of his outfit, decided to bring the ossified Janata Parivar factions together, hoping that it would keep their traditional vote bank intact. The RSS has also scaled up its activities in UP, with its top leadership spending more time in the state, deploying additional forces to consolidate its base and capture new pastures. Last week, the PM chose to stay overnight in his constituency, Varanasi, as part of an unfolding plan to consolidate his grip over the state. He chose to represent the holy city because it is a symbol of Hindu heritage and one of the most sacred of Gangetic destinations. Aware of the fact that he is the first non-UP leader to become the PM after getting a handsome mandate from Varanasi’s voters, Modi has decided to return the favour. He doesn’t belong to any of its dominant castes such as Brahmins, Thakurs and upper caste Kayasthas like Shastri, but it hasn’t stopped Modi from getting the new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (who is likely to be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh within 24 hours of his swearing-in). This reflects his intention to raise the level of UP’s participation in his Cabinet. It is for the first time that the PM, the home minister and the defence minister, all represent Uttar Pradesh in Parliament. Though both Modi and Parrikar aren’t from UP, along with Rajnath Singh, they make a formidable troika that can demolish all hostile political combinations. 

With the induction of Parrikar and other ministers, UP will have the maximum representation in the Central government—Uma Bharti, Kalraj Mishra, Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Gen. V K Singh and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan. Previously, such a situation had happened only during Morarji Desai’s reign, during which he inducted four Cabinet ministers from UP, including Chaudhury Charan Singh as the home minister. Rajiv Gandhi ensured that powerful leaders like Narain Dutt Tiwari, V P Singh, K C Pant and Mohsina Kidwai were given prominent positions. Barring G B Pant, who was India’s first Home Minister from UP (then the United Provinces), it was only Charan Singh who held the honour. Additionally, for the first time, three of the five members of the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Security represent Uttar Pradesh. It is not just a coincidence that they enjoy the full confidence of the RSS leadership. Although Modi has his eyes fixed on Bihar and UP since almost half the Lok Sabha seats the party won are from these two states, it is the only in UP where his twin mantra of Hindutva and development can deliver handsome dividends. On the face of it, UP is caste-ridden, communally polarised and is bereft of any national leader. But for a large number of aspirational UP-ites, Modi has projected himself as the messiah of modernisation, a liberal Hindu and a leader with nationwide appeal.

If the future contours and content of BJP’s Operation UP is an indication, Modi would be spending about 20 days every year in the state. He has already established a full-fledged office equipped with state-of-the-art technology to monitor not only Varanasi but also the entire state. A special cell is to be set up in the PMO under a senior officer who would keep a real time watch on all developments in Uttar Pradesh. But Modi’s trump card appears to be the Ganga. By putting Uma Bharti, a Ganga devotee, in charge of the river rejuvenation project, he expects to influence the voters of 45 Lok Sabha seats and of over 200 Assembly seats situated along and around Ganga’s path. UP is the only state in which the RSS, the Union government and the state BJP work in perfect coordination. While RSS workers identify relevant issues at the ground level and present their wish list to their leadership, the state unit of the BJP forwards it to Om Mathur, the Central leader in charge of Uttar Pradesh.
It was Amit Shah who chose Mathur, who had assisted him in the Gujarat and Maharashtra Assembly elections for the job. He is supported by a few trusted political aides from Gujarat and other states. In addition, all the infrastructure ministries have been instructed to pay special attention to pending projects in UP, give them the extra push to take off, and also pump in generous funds. Both Bharti and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari have done a detailed study of various water- and road-related issues and will be spending their maximum time in the state. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu has been pushing for the development of the maximum number of smart cities in UP. If Gujarat was the laboratory for the Hindutva experiment, Modi is turning Uttar Pradesh into an exhibition venue to showcase his development agenda, while retaining Hindutva as the core ingredient. His plan is to restore the state’s national status it had lost in the churning of regional politics. Team Modi is now marketing the PM in the state as a leader who would replace titans like Nehru, Indira and Vajpayee. Modi will create political history again if he succeeds in making the Hindi-speaking and god-fearing UP bhaiyyas accept a Gujju as their saviour.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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