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UP could well be the BJP's Waterloo

By Nazarwala
January 09, 2009 13:39 IST
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Election fever has gripped Uttar Pradesh, and how.

All the important political parties like the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are desperately preparing to fight the parliamentary election in great earnest.

The only exception to this?

The Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP seems to be fast losing ground across the nation. And most certainly hurtling towards its doom in UP.

The all-India party seems to have become suddenly afflicted with a severe paralytic attack in UP.

Petty-minded infighting, ego clashes, lack of finances, failed poll planks/issues, ineffective leadership, confused and demotivated cadres, and acute casteism are some of the causes dragging this national party down in UP.

Thakur Rajnath Singh, the BJP's national president, hails from UP. A former school teacher, he lacks the vision that a national party like the BJP deserves.

His stunted personality is ridiculed by the BJP's brilliant brigade which includes Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, etc.

He has miserably failed on his home ground, UP. It's a pity, since the BJP certainly deserves a more dynamic and vote-guzzling leader than this lacklustre Thakur.

I daresay he cannot name a single parliamentary constituency in UP where his party candidate is sure to win. Need one say more?

He will be lucky if his party creeps up to beyond double digits in UP.

Rajnath Singh has planted Brahmin leader Ramapati Tripathi as president of the BJP's state unit. A strange decision, since Tripathi's grasp and knowledge of the political system is very poor.

To given one instance: A much-publicised, statewide agitation was launched by the BJP last month.

A journalist quizzed Tripathi about the public support and response to the agitation.

Tripathi turned round and asked the journalist, "Which agitation?" The journalist was shocked at such 'awareness' on the part of the BJP's state president.

So much for Tripathi's interest in and commitment to activate his moribund party and its indifferent cadres.

Rajnath Singh thought of putting up a Brahmin president to thwart allegations that being a Thakur he could not inspire Brahmins to return to the BJP's fold, and to wean away the Brahmins who were making a beeline to Mayawati's BSP thanks to Satish Chandra Mishra's social engineering.

Tripathi and Rajnath Singh have miserably failed in this most vital exercise. And gloating over their failure is arch-rival Kalraj Mishra.

Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh hate each other, and the whole state knows this. They are not even on talking terms. The king-size egos of these erstwhile chief ministers have had a disastrous effect on the party, horizontally and vertically.

The Lodhi Rajput votes matter in many UP constituencies, and Kalyan Singh is the only leader from the community who can get their support and win a few seats.

Naturally, the result of the Rajnath-Kalyan ego clashes will reflect in the BJP's debacle in UP.

The 'chief minister of Lucknow Chowk'. That is how another BJP 'stalwart', Lalji Tandon, is ridiculed all over Lucknow because of his local profile. He is a poor successor to the universally respected Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow.

Tandon will resort to all his old tricks that will spell his doom. Prescient voters of Lucknow have not forgotten the way he had messed up the sari distribution gimmick during his 70th birthday celebrations.

The state Rashtriya Swayamsevak and Vishwa Hindu Parishad cadres are a thoroughly demoralised and disillusioned lot. They have neither any incentive, nor issue, to work for the BJP's victory.

When in power, BJP leaders unceremoniously shooed them away.

Unlike Mulayam Singh Yadav's goons who made hay while the sun shone, the BJP workers could neither mint money nor could they influence bureaucratic decisions.

Voters across UP laugh and mock at the pathetic plight of the BJP/VHP workers. Their state-level leaders too are not heard with any serious attention/respect.

The Mumbai attacks were expected to win the BJP Hindu sympathy/voters in UP. Sadly, this has not happened. The assembly election results in the nation's capital, Delhi, is a mocking example.

Declaring a chief ministerial candidate before the polls no doubt helped the BJP in many states.

But announcing L K Advani as the prime ministerial candidate before the parliamentary election might prove disastrous for it in UP, maybe even India. Evidence can already be seen in former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's fulminations against the decision.

Advani lacks Vajpayee's charisma and oratorical skills. Predictably, Advani scores less marks than even his phenomenally popular chela Narendra Modi.

Advani unfortunately cannot sway the masses. The BJP cadres and leaders in UP, somehow, refuse to be impressed/enthused by him.

They feel betrayed by Advani for not honouring his commitment to build a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

The BJP/RSS and National Democratic Alliance leadership seem to be trapped in a Catch-22 situation after succumbing to pressure and nominating Advani as their prime ministerial candidate.

If only they could muster enough vision and courage and shove the silly seniority criterion under the carpet. And, then, somehow persuade Modi to pick up the gauntlet of leading the BJP.

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