LUCKNOW: The central commanders of the BJP are camping in the holy city of Varanasi to lead the party’s flag march ahead of the final phase of Assembly polls that is to be held on March 8. Leading from the front is their commander-in-chief - Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself - accompanied by over 20 senior Cabinet Ministers. Modi has been staying at his parliamentary constituency for the past two days.
The amassing of the top party leaders in the State indicates the significance of Uttar Pradesh to Modi, who has made a ‘him versus the rest’ affair. On the contrary, the political pundits are viewing it as an act of desperation of the saffron brigade to wrest the UP crown.
So, what makes the Prime Minister of the country drive the party juggernaut in a State election? Since 2014, Modi has been seen steering the BJP’s campaigns for State elections himself, often essaying the role of a Chief Minister as the party goes faceless against rivals with convincing CM candidates.
Despite reverses in Bihar, the way Modi has been leading the UP campaign shows the importance he is attaching to his ‘karmabhoomi’. Losing will dent not only his prestige, but also his pattern of governance that has often come under criticism from his rivals.
Attacks on demonetisation by rivals were blunted by his repartees that left a lot to be decoded by the voters. “Maya ko Maya mile kar kar lambe haath.... (Gluttony brings like-minded persons together),” he said at the intellectuals’ meet in Varanasi on Sunday, to buttress his claim on why SP and BSP were humming the same tune on ‘notebandi.’
Modi also fired salvos at bureaucracy and elucidated its waywardness in handling issues. “Netao, Babuo ne loota hai desh ko (Leaders and bureaucrats have looted the country)”, he said, reiterating his resolve to not spare the corrupt. But this time, unlike after demonetisation, the poor and deprived would not be left to suffer, he clarified.
“Chhotey logon ko pareshani nahi hone dunga lekin looteron ko nahi chhodunga ye pakka hai (I will not let the common man suffer but won’t leave the plunderers),” he said, apparently hinting at more demonetisation-like radical moves in future.
His Varanasi rhetoric, probably the last and strongest push to his UP endeavour so far, went off leaving behind his undiminished trail of popularity on the banks of his ‘own Varanasi’ as this war of the year winds up.