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EDITORIAL: 1-15 February 2002

Ram bhakts’ niraj in UP

Encouraging signs are emanating from UP where preparations for the forthcoming polls are in full swing. Though elections are being held simultaneously for three others states, including Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur, an obvious importance is being attached to the elections in the state, due to its propensity to reflect the national mood. UP has always affected the government at the centre and whoever controls the state controls the centre, goes the popular saying in political circles. 

It is for sure that the outcome of the assembly elections will reflect the popular mood about not only how the state government has fared but also about how the government at the centre has managed, rather mismanaged, its business. For the first time in more than a decade people are going to elect a government on the basis of its performance. Elections in the state during the last decade have centred around the single non-issue of Ram Janambhoomi with the BJP being the obvious gainer. 

Things are not so rosy for the Sangh Parivar this time, as the Ayodhya issue, exploited by it to the hilt for close to two decades has failed to inspire the old warmth among its diehard supporters. It is not to say that it has lost its total relevance, but it has been overtaken by issues of real concern to the common man. 

To say the least, the BJP has not been able to do justice with any of its much touted claims. The party had been talking of giving clean, corruption-free government and had promised to improve the law and order situation and to put the state on the information technology map of the country. All this seems to have been lost as a result of internal dissidence and intra-coalition feuds. Instead of governance the party, for most part, when it was in the power seems to have spent time in solving internal squabbling of its own power-hungry leaders. And when there was some calm intra-coalition squabbling kept the leaders busy. And to top it all, it had to spend a substantial time in organizing defections and further defections in other parties in order to stay in power by hook or by crook. Jod-tod ki rajneeti, politics bereft of all values, seen during the BJP raj has never been witnessed in the political history of Independent India. Instead of governance, survival of the government through means legal or illegal, became the only motto of Ram bhakts. 

BJP used to raise the slogan of giving a clean, corruption-free government. Instead it offered the most corrupt government in the history of the state, with criminals getting control of plum ministries. It is being widely rumored that higher the status of the criminal in the underworld, higher were his chances of bagging an important portfolio in the state cabinet. Though it may not be wholly true, but dadas and bhayyas were playing a role never witnessed earlier in the history of the state. And with this trend, law and order have become obvious victims. Reports emanating from the state talk of an steady emigration of multinationals and leading business houses from as close to the national capital as Ghaziabad leave nothing to imagination.

Promises were made only to be broken. Mukhya Mantry (chief minister) has earned the title of Ghoshna Mantri (announcement minister) and has been credited with making more than 700 promises during his tenure of just over a year as the chief minister of the state. 

One important thing, that has been major victim of the mis-governance and goonda raj, is the welfare of the people. This vital function of any government was so much neglected amid engineering defections and trying to keep its flock together that the state government seems to have forgotten that it was in power in order to serve the people, not itself. Nothing has been done in the name of development during the last five years while this government was in power. Electricity problem has become acute despite increased power generation. In most parts of the state electricity is supplied merely for a few hours at odd timings. This is happening in major towns of the state including Lucknow, the state capital. This is in total contrast to the past when electricity was cut for an hour or two in most parts of the state. The state government is unable to pay the salaries of its employees. Its coffers are empty and it is being said that the real problem for Chief Minister Rajnath's successor will begin only after winning the elections when he will not only find an empty coffer but also a hostile government at the centre. Though the BJP and its saffron bosses have been trying to divert people's attention from these issues of grave concern to emotive slogan like war against 'our' common enemy, Pakistan and fighting global terrorism, but in vain. 

These issues failed to enthuse voters. So finally it has once again brought out the Ram Janambhoomi issue from its warehouse. This is the only formidable issue in its arsenal that it believes can save the day. And so began the Sant Chetawni Yatra of the VHP to once again mobilise the masses behind the BJP. But as the low turn out shows, it has failed to generate the sort of enthusiasm it did earlier which died with the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Memories of the masses are short, but obviously not as short as the BJP believes it to be. (SUR)
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