Lucknow: The rhetoric of campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest chunk of lawmakers to Parliament, is getting shriller.
The Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Akhilesh Yadav released his party’s manifesto, christened ‘Vote For Greater Change’.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues his tirade against the Congress.
His shrill rhetoric is based on the unfounded grouse that the Congress is collaborating with the Indian Muslim League (IUML) in Kerala. He even went to the extent of terming IUML as a virus.
In other words, Yogi and the BJP want a majority-minority wedge to be the dominant campaign theme, at least in Uttar Pradesh.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, an ally of the SP, was busy in far-away states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to campaign for her party’s candidates. She was in Nagpur on Friday.
The Congress is yet to come out with a concrete campaign strategy beyond the visits of party general secretary for east Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Her campaign trips to the state’s Bundelkhand region, scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5, were postponed.
She was scheduled to visit Mahoba, Jalaun, Hamirpur and Banda districts in the Bundelkhand region.
No reason was assigned for this cancellation, though it was obvious she had to accompany Rahul Gandhi to Waynad in Kerala. Rahul filed his nomination for Lok Sabha election from the Wayanad constituency on April 4.
Priyanka’s last trip to UP was to Amethi and Ayodhya on March 29. Earlier, she had visited Prayagraj, Varanasi and Mirzapur and wowed the crowds with a boat ride on the Ganges during a three-day visit.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh used the occasion of manifesto release to highlight his party’s election promises; he also stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly being pro-rich and neglecting the poor.
Then he took on Yogi Adityanath for the latter’s earlier comment about the Muslim League’s association with the Congress in Kerala.
“Muslim League is a virus and the principal opposition party, the Congress, has been affected by it,” Yogi had tweeted.
Apparently, Yogi is not aware the IUML has been a prominent player in Kerala politics since the 1960s.
In the past four decades, IUML has partnered with the Congress as well as with the CPI and the CPI (M) in many elections from 1965 to 1980.
As Rahul Gandhi’s nomination in Wayanad served to highlight his party’s association with a wide spectrum of political parties and his attempt to show his affinity with the southern states, Mayawati’s focus on states other than UP is also clear in giving a message about her long-term political agenda.
Despite her party’s coalition in UP, she preferred to launch her party’s election campaign in Odisha.
Then she moved on to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to boost her party’s candidates in these states. Clearly, her efforts are aimed at getting some numbers from diverse states rather than an uncertain number from one state (UP), where the BJP has already unleashed a shrill rhetoric and the SP is keen to speed up its act.
All these leave the Congress campaign in a disarray, since it is heavily dependent upon the presence of Priyanka.
Her two high-profile visits have served to revive the people’s interests in the party, but the general discourse has not so far moved away from Priyanka’s looks, speech, attire, temple visits and in-the-face participation in Hindu temple rituals.
It could be unintentional, but her campaigning in UP has so far been confined to visiting temples in Prayagraj, Varanasi and Ayodhya, showing reverence to the Ganges, which is considered a holy river, and interaction with women.
Congress leaders in Lucknow, however, deny that her programme features only a strata of the society.
They point out that she visited the dargah of Khwaja Ismail Chishti at Kantit Sharif in Mirzapur, besides visiting the Vindhyachal temple as well.
Incidentally on Friday, April 5, Priyanka visited Ghaziabad to campaign for her party’s candidate, and participated in a roadshow for over three hours.
Ghaziabad is among the eight constituencies in western UP where voting will be held on April 11, in the first phase.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, the general secretary in-charge of western UP, has not even once visited the area under his command.
The onus for campaigning, clearly, is on Priyanka alone, be it Wayanad or Ghaziabad or Ayodhya.
In such a situation, it could be a long, tiring time for Priyanka in the coming summer weeks in the plains of Uttar Pradesh.