With Yogi govt in dock over mishandling of pandemic, opposition parties gear up to dislodge BJP in UP

With the Congress led by Priyanka Gandhi, Samajwadi Party and BSP doing well in recently-held panchayat polls and UP heading for assembly polls next year, BJP’s prospects of retaining power are dim

UP CM Yogi Adityanath
UP CM Yogi Adityanath

Pradeep Kapoor

BJP is busy with a damage control exercise in Uttar Pradesh following the drubbing it received in the recently held panchayat polls. There have several meetings of the party’s central leadership with the state leaders to chalk out a strategy to improve the image of the party and the government to face the assembly polls due in the state early next year.

Significantly, top leaders of RSS were also involved the discussions. Senior leaders of RSS are also visiting the state capital to interact with state leaders.

It came as a shock for the BJP to lose in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura as these districts have always remained the main focus of the party’s leadership which thrived on the Hindutva agenda.

At a time when grand Ram temple is under construction in Ayodhya, the defeat of party-supported candidates has unnerved the party’s central leadership.

BJP is worried about the public perception about the UP government’s handling of the pandemic in the state when several MPs, including Union minister and MLAs, wrote letters to Chief inister Yogi Adityanath expressing helplessness in arranging medicines, oxygen and hospital beds in the their areas. Some of them also complained of blackmarketing of oxygen and medicines.

The horrifying images of bodies flowing in the Ganga and large-scale burial on the banks of the river in Prayagraj and other cities has also unnerved BJP and the state government.

There are indications that a ministerial reshuffle could take place in the near future as a part of the party’s damage control exercise.

The results of the panchayat polls have boosted the morale of the Samajwadi Party and its national president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has been highly critical of the handling of the pandemic by the Yogi government.

Though Akhilesh Yadav was not seen hitting the road during the last four years, his party got the advantage in panchayat polls for better organisational network at the grassroots and caste-based support.

Akhilesh Yadav is now reported to be working out a formula of alliance with other parties for a rainbow coalition of different castes especially backward and most backward classes. Samajwadi Party is also looking for those Dalits who were not with BSP and Mayawati.

Recently, Akhilesh Yadav played the aggressive Dalit card by organising ‘Dalit deepawali’ by asking his party leaders to put lights around statues of Ambedkar all over the state. Dalit bastis were also lit up by Samajwadi Party leaders and workers. This was a big attempt by Akhilesh Yadav to reach out to Dalits to broaden the party’s base.

Surprisingly, BSP also did well in panchayat polls irrespective of the fact that Mayawati was labelled as the B team of BJP by the other opposition parties.

During the last four years and especially since March last year, Mayawati was seen advising the central and state governments. She did lead any agitation against the government.

There is no doubt that at a time when political experts and opposition leaders were saying that BSP would not do well in assembly polls in view of erosion of its support base and exodus of senior leaders to other parties, its good performance in panchayat polls has surprised the party leadership.

The Congress leadership is also happy with the results as the party did much better since the last polls held in 2015. UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu and other leaders have given the credit for this to Congress general secretary in charge of the state, Priyanka. Ever since Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was given the charge of UP, she is in direct touch with state leaders. Prior to the spread of COVID pandemic, she used to visit UP very frequently and also led agitations there.

During the pandemic also, the Congress was seen attacking the Yogi government on various issues and state leaders have also courted arrest.

Priyanka Gandhi also addressed different sections of society through video conferences. She took the initiative of arranging buses for migrant labourers and medicines and oxygen for those suffering from COVID.

She is now busy working to strengthen the party organisation at the booth level. She has the mobile number of these booth level workers and can contact them as and when she desires.

The Congress is busy in expanding its network all over the state with the appointment of committed workers and office-bearers to prepare for the assembly polls to be held next year.

It would be pertinent to mention here that during the last assembly polls, Samajwadi Party had an alliance with Congress and in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the SP had joined hands with the BSP.

(IPA Service)

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