Peace Party - RLD alliance rattles BSP et al

By Ashraf Ahmad

New Delhi: The formation of a political alliance and its announcement on 23 Feb in Lucknow, between Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Peace Party (PPI) with its seven constituent parties, mainly Bhartiya Samaj Party, Indian Justice Party, Janwadi Party, Momin Conference, Lok Jan Shakti Party and others, have sent alarm bells ringing in the ruling BSP, which was hitherto riding high on TINA factor. Political observers have been commenting that despite strong anti-incumbency factor, the situation of political hopelessness among the electorates in UP in the absence of a viable opposition was giving political comfort to the ruling BSP. While Congress Party had raised hopes of giving an alternative, after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, its subsequent decline has created a vacuum, as voters do not seem to be ready to experiment yet again with choosing the lesser evil between SP and BSP, and therefore despite aggressive posturing by SP in recent months and winning last two by-elections, voters remain largely un-enthusiastic about giving Samajwadi Party a chance yet again, after they saw it worse in terms of corruption, criminalisation and colluding with BJP, and thus losing the trust of its main base vote.
peace party

The apparently strong position of the BSP and visible decline of Congress Party since 2009, had dashed the hopes of an alternative to SP-BSP in UP, between whom the electorates had been forced to choose alternatively in the past ten years. The announcement of the new formation gives hope to the electorates, of an alternative to the SP and BSP, as BJP and Congress do not seem to be in the reckoning. The new alliance may seem less formidable, as commented by journalists at the huge media event recently in Lucknow, but everyone agreed that this has potential to challenge the money and muscle might of the ruling BSP, which had till now drawn in comfort in the fact that others are divided and it’s vote bank is intact and also that BSP is fully geared up to face election any time. As for anti-incumbency, it had drawn up a plan of puncturing it by posting officers with a clean image in key posts and chucking out one fourth of its sitting MLAs, by blaming them for mis-governance.

But the announcement of the new alliance has alerted it, as BSP fully understands the potential of Peace Party in mobilizing Muslim votes in UP, who form the largest vote block of 20% plus, even though officially it is only 18%, and its alliance with OBC and Dalit caste-based parties, makes it a grouping of 30%. And with the addition of Rashtriya Lok Dal, the new force can make a clean sweep of 100 seats in Western UP, 30 – 40 in Central UP and 50 – 60 seats in Eastern UP. Peace Party’s aggressive campaign of holding mass rallies almost every week from eastern UP to western and central UP, attended by 25,000 to 1,00,000 people each time, mostly Muslims, is an indicator of things to come. It is confident of transferring 75% of Muslim votes to anyone, even against Muslim candidates of other parties, is a power which only BSP had so far. But, while BSP represented 12% of mainly Chamar votes to which Mayawati herself belongs, PPI represents 20% Muslim vote block and adding Pasi, Khatik, Rajbhar, Jats, Gujjar and Lonia to its tally, makes it a formidable force to watch out for in 2012 elections. But the question arises if the party has the organization, resources and maturity to manage the huge election campaign, who are its leaders? There has been much speculation as to who are its strategists, managers and fund-raisers. We bring an analysis here:

Dr. M Ayub – The Leader: away from politics, a practicing surgeon at his Zohra Hospital in his home town of Barhalganj in Gorakhpur district for the last 25 years now has jumped into politics and formed the Peace Party in 2008. Earlier he did his MBBS and MS from BHU and worked in Indian Civil Service in Customs Department at Mumbai. While he is completely new to politics, however as a surgeon (first introduced to the world by MGway back in February 2001 - see here), Dr. Ayub is renowned for having done the largest number of surgeries in the world, and entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the same. He, however, had only a brief stint of a year as a non-active General Secretary of National Loktantrik Party. He is known as a thinker, strict disciplinarian and tough negotiator.
Dr. M J Khan – The Strategist: moving at jet speed, he has his foot-prints everywhere from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Ahmedabad to Assam. Being a renowned figure in agriculture domain in the country from heading Agriculture Today to Food and Agriculture Council to anchoring farmers politics, convener of national farmers alliance to heading a number of Muslim organizations such as Indian Muslims Research & Coordination Centre and Muslims Economic Forum, he has of late emerged as convergence point of national Kisan politics as well as modern Muslim politics with extensive coordination with Muslim organizations on policy and economic issues. Known to be close to top leadership of BJP, Congress, CPM, TDP, JDS and to a host of central ministers and chief ministers, he brings in intellectual input, political connects and provides strategic line of action to the Party.
Dr. Abdul Mannan – The Campaigner: a front face at rallies, he is known for his oratory and executive abilities. A dedicated soldier, he puts in much hard work and does morale boosting of the cadre. Dr. Mannan holds MBBS and MS and runs his eye hospital in Balrampur.
Rajesh Singh – The Operations Manager: having contested the last parliamentary election on Peace Party ticket and securing over one lakh votes from Khalilabad, he is known to be Mr. Dependable. Almost invariably deployed as election manager, wherever PPI has contested by-elections, he is trustworthy and dedicated.

In addition to the top four, there are about half a dozen retired bureaucrats, few journalists and some fiery speakers drawn from erstwhile NLP, with units set up in over 50 districts. The Peace Party has been able to give confidence to its cadre that it means serious business and that it can deliver. Despite many accusations that the party is funded by BJP and rumouring campaign against it, PPI has only got stronger. The party is to be watched: whether it joins hands with the Congress or SP in 2012 elections and how it unfolds its plans to enter other states.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 1

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