Dr. Charles Dias
The Assembly elections to Utharakhand, Goa, Punjab, Manipur and Utter Pradesh in 2017 are going to be a turning point to the BJP, Congress and other parties. In Utharakhand we see a large number of Congress leaders changing to BJP side. In power politics they do not find idealism or commitment to people, but only power crazy. Total number of seats are 70 here. In Goa, the ruling BJP is struggling. Money is pumped to woo voters. Congress, M.G.P. and AAP are in the fray. According to me, at least in 5 to 10 seats where Congress victory is possible , AAP is going to decide the fate. In the total 40 seats in Goa, voters range from 15,000 to 26,000. 500 or 1000 votes grabbed by AAP are going to be deciding. BJP and MGP play mostly with communal cards.
Punjab witness melting down of Badals and SAD. Here also, AAP became a big threat to Congress in most of the 117 seats. In Manipur, the situation is complex. Congress and BJP have fielded many of the ‘Aaaya Rams and Gaaya Rams’. The Irom Sharmila factor is going to be tested here. In the total 60 seats, fight is really tough.
In Utter Pradesh, the 403 Assembly Constituencies are witnessing tough triangular fight. The SP-Congress Alliance, BJP and BSP are the main contestant parties.
The peculiarity I find in the Assembly elections of 2017 is the use and misuse of religion and communal factors. Religious and communal factors have played in elections earlier too. But, the way it is used this time is far beyond reasoning and in a dangerous level. Especially in Utter Pradesh, the way the second phase of propaganda is carried out by BJP particularly is totally based on religious and communal lines. The other parties cannot project a single religious identity as their cadre is somewhat secular or rather not sharp on their religion. The reason is that, different people who belong to different religions have joined together in their parties. But, see BJP propaganda. It is centered mainly in ‘whispering campaign’. The ‘Hinduwata’ card is used particularly in UP. Anybody can understand the way Amit Shaw , the BJP President campaigns in UP and his speeches to woo Hindu voters. But see Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi and his election speeches in UP. It seems that after demonetization, he doesn’t speak about the difficulties of people on this act, but after 50 days he speaks only about ‘cashless economy’! In UP he just attacks his opponents using words hitherto no Prime Minister used ! While BJP workers go around every Hindu houses in UP and according to reports their aim is to consolidate Hindu votes, Narendra Modi makes speeches on drawbacks of character of opposition leaders! Very few speeches of him mentions about administration and progress of the State. Of course, UP results are unpredictable. Let us wait and see where democracy has reached in India.
Dr. Charles Dias is a Former Member of Parliament (LS)