India

Modi’s six trips to UP in a month: Lok Sabha poll nerves showing

PM Modi’s six visits to Uttar Pradesh over the past fortnight show a palpable nervousness on account of increasing possibility of BJP facing a grand Opposition alliance in the next Lok Sabha polls

Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Sharat Pradhan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s half a dozen visits to Uttar Pradesh over the past fortnight have left everyone wondering if the frequency showed a palpable nervousness on account of the increasing possibility of the Bharatiya Janata Party facing a grand opposition alliance in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Ever since BJP suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of combined Opposition parties in four bye-elections across the state, this has become a cause of worry for the entire saffron dispensation. And since it is his political destiny that would be at stake in 2019, it is quite natural for Modi to be concentrating more on what is India's most populous state. After all it was BJP’s record win of 73 out of the 80 UP Lok Sabha seats in 2014 that propelled Modi to prime-ministership.

Modi’s UP forays began on July 14 with Azamgarh, followed by Varanasi and Mirzapur. Precisely a week later he was in Shahjahanpur, addressing sugarcane farmers, whom he promised the moon. On July 28, he had a bigger date with Lucknow, where he laid the foundation for 99 projects worth ₹3,897 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Amrut Yojana and the Smart City Mission in Lucknow. Virtually in poll mode, he also held an interactive session with beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Though he chose to return to New Delhi on July 29 evening, he was back in Lucknow on Sunday morning, to preside over a ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony to mark the crystallisation of investments worth ₹60,000 crore. And he left no stone unturned to give it such a hype that he even made the organisers look small. “This is not just a ground-breaking ceremony, but a record-breaking achievement for which the credit goes to not only the state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, but also his entire team”, the prime minister told a massive gathering of industrialists.

Modi’s UP forays began on July 14 with Azamgarh, followed by Varanasi and Mirzapur. Then Shahjahanpur a week later where he promised sugarcane farmers the moon.  On July 29, he had a bigger date with Lucknow, returning to the capital again the next day

Even though the UP government could manage to translate only a fraction of the MOUs worth ₹4.28 lakh crores signed  at an Investors Summit held at the same venue, Lucknow’s Indira Gandhi Pratisthan in February, the prime minister chose to term it as a huge achievement. “The fact that the UP CM and his team have been able to convert ₹60,000 crore worth of MOUs into reality is no mean achievement and that too in a state like Uttar Pradesh, where any investment was considered a big challenge.” He claimed that the 81 projects that were now in the pipeline would generate employment for more than two lakh people, without explaining how.

He went on to add, “Looking at the success story made in a matter of five months and the state’s potential, I can predict that the day is not far when UP will also become another trillion dollar economy.” Interestingly, he had make the same remark about Maharastra, while addressing the February Investors Summit here.

Meanwhile, state chief minister Yogi Adityanath also claimed that UP had emerged among India’s five key states distinguished  for ‘ease of doing business’.

Contrary to reports about increasing rapes and crimes against women, the prime minister chose to credit the UP CM with “bringing down crime in the state.” He further sought to praise Yogi Adityanath for a “wholistic vision and inclusive action”, when  the UP chief minister is widely known for not missing a single opportunity to give a communal turn to anything and everything.

Ever since BJP suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of combined Opposition parties in four bye-elections across the state, this has become a cause of worry for the entire saffron dispensation. Hence, it is quite natural for Modi to be concentrating on UP. After all it was BJP’s record win of 73 out of the 80 UP Lok Sabha seats in 2014 that propelled Modi to prime-ministership

It is now obvious to the nation that the prime minister is already in poll mode, well ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. He thus also sought to give himself a clean chit on the commonly levelled charge about his hobnobbing with a select band of industrialists, often referred to as his crony capitalists.

“I have no hesitation in admitting that I keep meeting industrialists. I see nothing wrong in it as they are as much partners in the development of the nation as are farmers”, he told the gathering that included corporate giants like Kumar Mangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, Yusuf Ali (LuLu group from UAE), Sanjeev Puri (ITC) and Subhash Chandra (Zee-Essel).

In an obvious bid to run down his political rivals before these industrialists, the prime minister went to the extent of saying, “these corporate leaders are no thieves and I see nothing wrong in meeting them or being publicly seen with them.”

In the same vein, he did not hesitate to even compare himself to Mahatma Gandhi, by drawing a parallel between his own association with industrialists and Gandhi’s association with the Birlas during the freedom movement. “Even Mahatma Gandhi used to have close connections with the Birlas but there was nothing shady about it, so no eyebrows were raised.” He hastened to add, “when your intentions are above board, then there is nothing to worry and that is precisely the case with me. I have no qualms about getting myself photographed with industrialists, but some on my rivals systematically avoid that because they have much to hide.”

As if to preempt the questions that are bound to be asked about his frequent visits to UP, Modi made it a point to conclude his address with a wooing note, “main aata nahin hoon; main yahin aap hi ka hoon” (I do not come here; I belong here and I am a part of you all).

This article was updated at 10.35 am on July 31, 2018, to rectify a grammatical error in the headline and again at 4.36 pm the same day to correct an error in a date

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Published: 31 Jul 2018, 8:30 AM