This Week: Uttar Pradesh

This Week: Uttar Pradesh

Modi and party president Rajnath Singh also visited the Kashi Vishwanath and Sankat Mochan temples.

Back to Hindutva

When Narendra Modi began his election campaign in Uttar Pradesh two months ago,there was no visible display of his party’s Hindutva agenda. Not for long. In Varanasi where Modi addressed a large rally,the BJP fell back on that agenda. The backdrop to the dais at the rally ground carried pictures of temples and Dashashwamedh Ghat and two of Lord Shiva in the tandav pose. On top of the stage were three replicas of Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple,which is one of the 12 jyotirlingas. Modi and party president Rajnath Singh also visited the Kashi Vishwanath and Sankat Mochan temples. Shankhs (conch shells) were blown as Modi climbed the dais. The shells kept sounding to the audience as he said,“I have come from the land of Somnath to seek the blessings of Baba Vishwanath.”

Showdown and walkover

The Samajwadi Party has given Congress leader Pramod Tiwari a walkover in the election to a vacant Rajya Sabha seat,a surprising move amid an ongoing showdown between the parties over Muzaffarnagar riot victims. The SP did not field any candidate,allowing Tiwari an unopposed victory. The showdown over Muzaffarnagar,meanwhile,has seen Rahul Gandhi making an unannounced visit to relief camps and putting on Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav the onus of improving living conditions there,followed by Mulayam Singh Yadav criticising Rahul for having “sneaked into relief camps like a thief”. Mulayam has also claimed those living in the camps are not riot victims,a statement that has brought him under attack from Muslim clerics and leaders of other parties.

RLD shows strength

Amid speculation whether the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has suffered a dent in its vote bank of Jats and Muslims in western UP after clashes in Muzaffarnagar between members of these two communities,the party held a massive rally in Meerut seeking to send out a message that its support base remains intact. The audience at the rally,which leaders of the Congress too addressed,included a sizeable number of both Jats and Muslims. RLD insiders said party president Ajit Singh had organised the rally to send out the message that no other party should take the RLD lightly. The RLD had won five seats in western Uttar Pradesh in 2009,when it contested in alliance with the BJP. After the elections,the RLD joined the UPA and Ajit Singh became civil aviation minister.

BSP seats for Muslims

Having already identified 13 Muslim candidates for the Lok Sabha elections,the BSP has now dropped its previous candidates from three more seats to accommodate Muslims. The 16 will take the BSP’s count beyond the 14 Muslims it fielded in 2009,when four of them won. This time,the party has replaced Kamlesh Shukla in Deoria with Niyaz Ahmed Hasan,who had unsuccessfully contested the 2012 assembly election from Pathardewa as an independent candidate,and Satyaprakash Singh with Noor Mohammad in Etah constituency. The 16th seat the BSP has identified for a Muslim candidate is Pratapgarh,where the party is set to replace R K Verma. The name of the Muslim replacement will be announced soon.