SP-BSP alliance for 2019 general elections may put BJP in tight spot

BJP may face challenges in keeping intact its alliance partners and realigning caste configurations to counter the recent Akhilesh-Mayawati pact in Uttar Pradesh for Lok Sabha polls, writes MUDIT MATHUR

After suffering major setback in recently held Assembly elections in Hindi heartland states, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the journey for 2019 general elections is going to be a tightrope walk for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he may face challenges within his coalition partners and alliances of opposition parties in the politically most crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The ruling party is heading to face difficulty in keeping intact its alliance partners and realign their caste configurations to counter the SP-BSP poll pact between Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati for Lok Sabha polls, to contest 38 seats each, forgetting past political animosities in the larger interest of the country.

However, a section of BJP insiders are still optimistic and foresee early signs of resurgence with the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convincingly attacking his political opponents-Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, as allegations of corruption against these leaders have apparently gaining ground in the investigation that was initiated on the directives of the Allahabad High Court. 

Recovery of substantial incriminating material during raids by CBI and Enforcement Directorate for allegedly accumulating disproportionate assets and laundering of money through shell companies is adding ample ammunition to Modi’s artillery. During his Varanasi and Ghazipur visits, PM also attacked Rahul Gandhi for Augusta Westland VVIP chopper deal wherein an alleged middle-man Christian Michel was recently extradited from UAE for a trial to face allegations of corruption in another defence deal of UPA regime.

After the CBI teams raided 16 places in connection with allegations of illegal mining during Samajwadi Party rule (2012-2016) led by Akhilesh Yadav, allegations of irregularities and corruption in granting new and renewing old mining lease and license in utter violation of restrictions imposed by the Allahabad High Court in a PIL in 2016.

These raids purportedly recovered incriminating evidences of favouritism and irregularities.  In that period, Yadav handled the mining portfolio for a brief spell of time before its allocation to Gayatri Prajapati. Prajapati was already arrested under various criminal cases, Lok Ayukta was investigating charges against him for amassing disproportionate assets as a minister, and the wealth of his family too has gone up, unbelievably, higher than known sources of his income.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in a report tabled in the legislative assembly in 2017, had claimed that the state government had lost revenue of 477.93 crore in illegal mining.

CBI teams conducted simultaneous raids at the various premises of a high profile 2008 batch woman officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Mrs. B. Chandrakala,38, and Samajwadi Party MLC Ramesh Mishra under the offences relating to prevention of corruption, Criminal conspiracy, theft, extortion, cheating and attempt to commit offence and criminal misconduct.

Chandrakala enjoyed prime posting, as she got special patronage of Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav. Chandrakala, a former Hamirpur district magistrate, is a social media favourite with following of more than many political leaders due to her mask of public-spirited and upright officer.

Chandrakala is accused of sanctioning and renewing leases flouting the norms of e-tendering during her posting as district magistrate of Hamirpur after July 2012. Besides Hamirpur she also worked at Allahabad, Mathura, Bulandshahr and Meerut before being picked up by the NDA government as director of Swachch Bharat Mission under the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation in 2017.

The name of Ram Gopal Yadav continued to be under scanner ever since Enforcement Director booked Noida based chief engineer Yadav Singh in various housing swindles and amassing disproportionate assets in the name of his family member through facade of shell companies wherein his immediate family members were associated as its stakeholders. Yadav Singh also enjoyed excellent rapport with Bahujan Samaj Party Supremo as he got the direct patronage her brother Anand Kumar that facilitated phenomenal rise to his career prospects.

BJP stalwarts are deeply concerned as how to display the achievements of Modi governance and based on their internal assessments underlining possibilities of adverse reactions from the small traders, farmers and youths. The business suffered unimaginable loss due to demonetisation also. The suggestions of party strategists hurriedly accepted by the government and immediate rationalisation of the tariff slabs of GST on various products for providing ease of business to small traders.

The popularity graph of the party among the farmers have been found considerably low as they suffered loss due to successive droughts and most of them have been ridden in never ending debt burden. These circumstances have broken their spine, forcing them to commit suicide. Despite the promise of doubling their income, they still live in innumerable hardships and stress. The enthusiasm in youth has apparently extinct, as they loom large into feeling of desperation due to lack of job avenues before them. Senior leaders of the party have been deliberating to overcome from such a negative impact.

Visualising the challenges from the ground realities for upcoming general elections, Prime Minister Modi has played the master political card to amend the Constitution of India for providing ten percent reservation to poor upper caste job aspirants and the same stood passed with thumping majority by the both the houses parliament without much resistance from the major opposition parties. He also exempted small and medium traders from registration under GST of annual turnover Rs. 40 lacs. It would aim to assuage deeply demoralized Kirana, garments and other small retailers who would hope to get a fresh lease of life by such initiative.

The major trouble in Uttar Pradesh is brewing up for BJP leadership has been from its coalition partners. Apna Dal and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party have started showing signs of displeasure over alleged neglect from the senior BJP leaders who overlooked them in the areas of their influence where Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently went to attend several official public functions.

The Union State Health Minister Anupriya Patel, who comes from powerful “Kurmi” community and Cabinet Minister of Backward Classes Om Prakash Rajbhar have become vocal over the frustrating treatment they received from their alliance partner. While Rajbhar protested over release of a stamp in the name of just “Suheldev” and his Rajbhar caste were deliberately removed therein.

On the other hand, “Anupriyaji felt bad when her name was excluded in an advertisement of inauguration of Medical College at Siddhartha Nagar. This was organised under health ministry by minister in charge J.P. Nadda wherein BJP leaders found prominence in the function, including state minister Ashwini Chaubey, who hails from Bihar. This forced her to distance herself from prime minister’s programme,” said Ram Kumar Vishwkarma, who looks after her constituency works and attend the local problems.

Apna Dal spokesperson Brijendra told ‘Tehelka’, “Our party is not getting due respect and share in governance as our workers have not been adequately represented in municipal and local bodies elections, cooperatives and various places where BJP activists were nominated politically. We gave representations to BJP president Amit Shah who promised to sort out such issues but we are at the receiving end till date.” “We have no problems at central but at state level we feel neglected and step motherly treated,” he added.  

CBI officers, who are probing irregularities in mining of sand and minerals on the orders of the Allahabad high court, on Saturday seized multiple documents related to mining, property documents, around five kilograms of gold and jewelry as well as over 2 crore in cash during the searches, the officers said on condition of anonymity. CBI officers also questioned the MLC and former Zila Panchayat chairman Sanjiv Dixit in Hamirpur, who were among the lease holders and allegedly involved in illegal mining of red sand in Bundelkhand, a region where illegal red sand mining has thrived for long.

As soon as an FIR was registered by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on January 2, 2019. Its teams swung into action in a couple of days and raided 14 places in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, including the residence of a popular woman civil servant, a Samajwadi Party (SP) member of the legislative council (MLC) Ramesh Mishra, mining department officials and red sand mining lease holders, in connection with mining irregularities in Bundelkhand, CBI officers said.

The FIR states: “The role of the then mining ministers concerned during the relevant period may be looked into during the course of investigation.” In the period, Yadav handled the mining portfolio for a brief period. Announcing pre-electoral alliance with Samajwadi Party BSP president Mayawati termed the pulling the name of Akhilesh Yadav in illegal mining scam as, “an arm-twisting method to scuttle SP-BSP alliance and our party is pledged to stand by him.” 

“The party welcomes the CBI action but the timings of the raids raises questions on the intentions of the government,” said Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, SP spokesperson, questioning the timing of the raids just ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

Political turf of Uttar Pradesh has to witness triangular contest between BJP, Congress and SP-BSP alliance. SP-BSP alliance undermined the existence of Congress party in the state and left only two seats of Amethi and Raibarelli for its top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. On the other hand, addressing the national convention of BJP in Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made scathing attack on congress party and blamed its policies for every problem of the nation as BJP feel potential threat from Congress as a national party.