Saturday, June 22, 2024

Can BJP keep UP’s Lucknow seat?

The Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency of East Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls in the upcoming phase of the 2024 general election on May 20th, Monday. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh has traditionally been the strong Bharatiya Janata party bastion for over the last two decades with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh representing the seat as an elected Member of Parliament and seeking a third term, this time.

Notably, Singh will be in a face-off with a 69-year-old Samajwadi Party’s Ravidas Mehrotra fielded by INDIA Bloc, a three-time MLA on the SP ticket.

However, the competition in this city this time seems to be on the local issues and not on the legacy of the traditional voting pattern.

According to the locals, mainly youth, the city is facing a severe issue of unemployment, lack of opportunities, and skyrocketing price hikes of commodities. Despite having enough qualifications to get a job, the Union government’s repeated promises of creating more jobs have failed on the ground to deliver the promises made in the last two Lok Sabha elections.

Moreover, there is a lot of resentment among people against Rajnath Singh for not connecting with people on the ground and just taking the voters for granted.

“Skyrocketing Prices making it difficult to sustain”

Marro (34), a female toy vendor on the footpath of Lucknow’s iconic Clock Tower (Ghantaghar) told Maktoob, “Since lockdown, we are here on the roads, nobody came to ask if we need anything. Every day is like digging a well to fetch some water.”

Marro said that she can only make 250-300 rupees per day, and can’t even buy 1 litre of milk every day.

She said, “The prices of everything are skyrocketing, the income is not even half of what is to be spent, it is getting difficult to sustain. One day we could eat food, the other day we could only buy medicines. The children can’t go to school, because to run the home, everyone needs to work, so we can feed ourselves.”

“Whichever government comes to power, they should look into inflation and price hikes of everything. Where will the poor go? And I wish and pray that BJP never comes to power again”, said Marro.

When asked why, she said, “Aapko kya kahen, sab saamne hi hai, ab hum sab thak gaye hain (What should I tell you, everything is clear and evident).”

“BJP has tampered with EVM machines and votes”

Vikas (28), who runs his own small-scale business of CCTV cameras, believes that the BJP government would come into power once again as they did demonetization. It has helped the party financially and they are using that money to tamper the EVM machines and eventually votes.

He said, “The government has done a lot of work but for itself and not for the citizens. We are all by ourselves in this country, no political party works for the citizens. The money BJP has recovered by demonetization, they are using it for themselves, to buy EVM machines.”

Vikas alleged, “You vote for any party but it will go to BJP because EVMs are under their control. Whether you vote for Hand (Congress’s symbol) or Elephant (BSP’s symbol), it will only go to Lotus (BJP’s symbol).”

“The Election Commission is in BJP’s control, it will only follow orders of BJP”, said Vikas.

“I am 28 years old, I have never seen the cooking gas subsidy in our bank accounts. In the last 10 years, 15 lakhs were promised, but we didn’t get a penny. Only Jumlas were given to people. They say that they have given ration, how is it a favour of the government? Every citizen’s basic right is to get a plate full of food. What has this government done except making people’s lives more miserable than ever”, Vikas added.

Talking about the PM’s polarising speeches targeting Muslims, he said, “I am a Hindu, my name is Vikas, your name might be Muslim, but if you cut the wrist, the colour of the blood is the same. We all are humans and we all believe in coexisting peacefully. Most of my friends are Muslims.”

“Modi ji is a politician, it’s his work to do the politics of appeasement be it through dividing the nation on religious lines. I don’t have anything to say in this regard, what if I say anything here and there will be an action on me tomorrow”, the businessman asserted.

He concluded, “All I know is, Hindus and Muslims are brothers and sisters and we only want peace and nothing else.”

First Time voter’s Aspirations: Employment and Education

Fatima (19), who works with her father’s Non-Governmental organisation, Paramveer Chakraveer Veer Abdul Hamid Welfare Society working around child education and women empowerment believes that every citizen deserves three basic things which are: Roti, kapda aur Makaan (Food, clothing and shelter).

“We as a nation are failing at the basics as we are still struggling for these three things, while we as a ‘superpower’ like our Prime Minister calls India, should aim and achieve bigger things.”

Fatima will be voting for the first time in this Lok Sabha Elections and when asked who she will vote for, she said, “Definitely not the Bharatiya Janata Party.” Photo: Sahid Faris/Maktoob

Fatima will be voting for the first time in this Lok Sabha Elections and when asked who she will vote for, she said, “Definitely not the Bharatiya Janata Party.”

When asked why, she said, “I am a final year graduation student and I don’t see any prospects coming my way concerning education or employment during the rule of this regime. If I study further, there are no jobs.”

“And they have distorted the education system, I don’t see any point in studying too when the students after getting educated are seen on streets supporting Mob lynchings, Ram Mandir and unconstitutional laws like CAA. They are brainwashing children and students to divide the country based on religion”, she added.

Fatima further said, “Daawe-wade to bohot kiye par ram Mandir se pet thodi bharega (They did a lot of promises but that can’t fill the stomachs). Ram Mandir is good for vote appeasement  but people on the ground want promises made to be fulfilled and my aspirations are the same.”

50 Metres away was Pawan (28) with his stall of Pani-puri who wanted the BJP once again to form the government in the centre and the state.

When asked what the works done by the current regime he is inspired by, Pawan said, “Yogi Maharaj ka kaam to acha hai, hamare liye to ache hi hain (Yogi Mahraj has done a lot of work for us, he is good for us)”, but when asked he couldn’t list 3 developmental projects taken up or completed by the Yogi or Modi Government.

He said, “They are way better than the previous governments but I can’t tell you what BJP has done in particular.”

When asked what the BJP government has done for the vendors on the pavement he said, “Ese to kuch nahi lekin kaam bohot kiye hain, (Can’t tell you, but a lot of work has been done) and added that he earns enough money to sustain by selling Pani-puri every day on the pavement at Ghantaghar.

BJP aims to silence voices criticising them and their actions

One part of Ghantaghar of  Lucknow in 2019, was the hotbed of protests against the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. The site has now been sealed by the government and surrounded by the police force. Entry of commoners at the site is restricted by the police.

Mohammad Usman Ansari, (28), was an active participant in the protests. He has a case on him for protesting against CAA under section 124a, that is sedition and many others.

Usman asked, “How did I become an anti-national and if I ask the right questions from the government or I criticised their wrong policies?”

“Protests are an essential part of any democracy but this government wants to strangulate dissent in any form and that’s the biggest reason that they should be dethroned”, said Usman.

He further said, “Bulldozers are arbitrarily used against people who challenge the government or its actions and this is way against the spirit of the nation. People came on the road because this government is not interested in listening to anything against them.”

Usman added, “All these factors are strong enough for people to understand that this government is not working for them and now they are looking for a change.”

When asked what the alternative is if not BJP, he said India Alliance but at the same time expressed his disagreements with the bloc for not including the demands or issues related to Muslims and minorities in their manifesto.

Usman said, “People are looking at INDIA Alliance as an alternative, but it has failed to address our issues. Their manifesto lacks the promise of taking back the false cases imposed on Muslims during the anti-CAA movement. They have not mentioned their clear stand on the law so far. If we give them a chance they will have to come up with policies that also appease the Muslim population.”

He straight rightly said, “We now refuse to become a vote bank for any political party. If they want our votes, they should now stand by our side and stop taking us for granted.”

Moreover, INDIA Alliance candidate Ravidas Mehrotra in an interview with Maktoob said that the Alliance is against the CAA, will work towards removing the false cases imposed during anti-CAA protests and bring more jobs into force.

If India Bloc manages to win this seat, it will be interesting to witness Samajwadi Party rule for the first time in the constituency since 1991 as it has never won a Lok Sabha election.

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