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Bulldozer and Baba haunt UP’s Oppn parties in the run-up to 2024

The game has begun, but the players and positions remain unchanged.

IANS | New Delhi |

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The game has begun, but the players and positions remain unchanged.

The Opposition in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country, suddenly seems wary of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, mainly because the ruling alliance is armed with over confidence and people-friendly issues, while the Opposition lacks both.

The BJP, Bulldozer and Baba (Yogi Adityanath) continue to dominate the political skyline of Uttar Pradesh and there are no prizes for guessing the results of the Lok Sabha polls. Not unless something drastic happens.

“What is the fun in a fight if there is no Opposition,” asked a BJP leader, and rightly so.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, by all means, launched the party’s election campaign this week and the Opposition, having sensed the force of the tide, is decidedly afraid to swim against it.

The bulldozer politics in Uttar Pradesh has already put the Samajwadi Party and the Congress in a Catch 22 situation.

In the 2022 Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party had used the bulldozer to hit back at the BJP in its election campaign and Akhilesh Yadav, in his every speech, had projected the bulldozer as an example of dictatorship of the BJP leadership.

SP leaders even drew a parallel between the bulldozer and the excesses of the Emergency, but the ploy did not work. In fact, it boomeranged and hurt the Samajwadi Party the most.

The voters, apparently, approved of the bulldozer politics.

Post-election, the SP leaders have almost stopped talking about the bulldozer and have reverted to the incidents of crime and the poor law and order situation to hit at the Yogi Adityanath government.

A senior SP spokesman said, “The BJP knows the art of giving a communal overtone to all their illegal acts. They have turned the bulldozer into a symbol of Hindu pride that crushes non-Hindus. After the bulldozer, encounters are being used for the same purpose. Why are Hindus not victims of bulldozer and police encounters? Is there not a single Hindu who has done wrong?”

He added, “Anyone who opposes the ruling party is immediately branded as anti-Hindu. We have no option but to keep quiet till the people realise the truth.”

The SP has already burnt its fingers with the Ramcharitmanas issue. SP MLC Swami Prasad Maurya tried to give a casteist twist to the verses in the epic, but the BJP effectively managed to clobber the SP back by giving a communal overtone to the matter.

The issue of caste census raised by the SP has also petered out.

Akhilesh Yadav said, “The BJP has mastered the art of giving a Hindu-Muslim colour to everything – whether it is using the bulldozer or taking away the sarus. They claim to have the copyright on Hindutva and it is now for the people to see through their game.”

The Congress, meanwhile, is wandering in wonderland. The party remains completely leaderless and directionless in Uttar Pradesh.

Former Congress MLC Deepak Singh swears by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s charisma and Rahul Gandhi’s popularity when he says, “The Congress will make a remarkable comeback in 2024. The situation at the ground level is changing rapidly and the party will throw up surprising results in UP.”

A senior party functionary, however, said, “What can we do if our leaders don’t define a clear line on the issue. The party president is unconcerned about Uttar Pradesh while Rahul Gandhi does not want to touch the state because his sister Priyanka is in charge, and as for Priyanka, she has not stepped in here since the past one year. As a result, we have also stopped talking on poll-related issues.”

The Bahujan Samaj Parry, on the other hand, is wary of rubbing the BJP the wrong way. The party is simply focusing on getting back its cadres together and even the party workers are confused about the stand the BSP will take next year.

With opposition parties clearly wary of taking on the BJP, Bulldozer and Baba, the saffron hue is set to get a shade stronger and deeper in the coming months.

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