The BJP had to undergo both ridicule and opposition in the first two phases of the ongoing elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly before gaining acceptance even among its die hard critics after the third phase of polling on April 18.
In its exit polls for the third phase even the NDTV, which has been one of the most vociferous critics of the saffron party and other channels like Star News gave the leading position to BJP followed by the current media darling BSP and the perennial front-runner (no one knows why) the Samajwadi Party.
What'smore, a majority of the respondents in the exit poll rated BJP'sChief Ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh as the best choice for the top post in Lucknow. The findings should not be surprising considering the fact that the first three phases had covered Western Uttar Pradesh, where BJP had battled for seats mostly held by the Samajwadi Party or its one-time ally, the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal. The findings are also significant keeping in view the fact that the third round covered the region called Rohilkhand around Bareilly, Rampur and Pilibhit, which have a sizeable Muslim electorate-perceived and projected by both the media and pseudo-secular parties as anti-BJP.
It is also interesting to note that in the first phase, the BJP was shown at a poor third while in the second phase, the saffron party was projected as battling for the second position.
The run-up to the Third Phase had its hilarious side also as the entire world saw Rahul Gandhi cutting a sorry figure yet again by shooting off his mouth. If it was his outrageous comment on the demolition of the disputed structure that made the headlines last time, this time around, he sought to take credit for dividing Pakistan, a statement which found strong disapproval from the Muslim community which he was apparently trying to woo.
?It (1971) is a historical event for which no family or person should try to take credit. It is also an insult to the Bangladesh movement. Rahul is free to say whatever he wants to but in a democratic country, playing up family is not in good taste?, said historian Irfan Habib, a Left-wing intellectual. Others said his statement was ?immature, unwarranted and politically incorrect?.
In fact, BJP President Rajnath Singh hit the nail when he asked who was responsible for the Partition of the country in the first place. Rahul Baba'sstatement also drew sharp reactions from Islamabad which slammed it as a vindication of its charge of ?Indian interference.?
Rahul'searlier statement that the disputed structure would not have been demolished if his family was in power fell flat on the face as people reminded the novice leader that not only were the locks of the Ram Janmabhoomi opened during the tenure of his late father but also that a Congressman P.V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister when the incident took place. Some leaders even told him that thousands of Sikhs would not have been massacred in Delhi and other places in 1984 if someone other than a Gandhi was in power.
Unfortunately, the nation witnessed yet another bout of sycophancy as Congress leaders cutting across political rivalries, from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his arch rival Arjun Singh, went out of their way to defend the Yuvraj. Singh openly declared that the Amethi MP was the ?future? even as the Ministry of External Affairs found itself in an embarrassing position answering queries from the media.
The run-up also saw Rahul'smother Sonia Gandhi making a desperate last-minute attempt to woo Muslim voters. The UPA Chairperson and Congress president penned a letter in Urdu and sent it to as many as 15,000 members of the community seeking their support ?in her fight (sic) against forces of casteism and communalism.?
Ironically, around the same time, the Union Home Ministry cleared a proposal to allow the icon of blatant casteism Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to drive straight upto the tarmac in any airport in the country to board her plane. However, the order was silent on what category Mayawati has been placed for extension of this privilege to drive straight to the airport.
There are generally three categories under which any VIP is given permission to drive straight to the tarmac like on grounds a person is a highly threatened person, VIP with NSG protection and ill-health besides protocol. The Home Ministry is totally silent on the issue.
The highly hyped up Mayawati too appeared to be unnerved by the BJP'sresurgence as her party reportedly circulated a nasty ?hate text? ?Behanji Ka Sandesh? which made highly derogatory and objectionable remarks against Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Yadavs, Muslims and the media in a desperate bid to win back the Dalit voters who are deserting her enmasse to back the pan-Hindu BJP. Her much-hyped and new found alliance with the Brahmins too appear to be collapsing like a pack of cards.
Notwithstanding such gimmicks, both the Gandhis and other political players have started realising that the BJP is fast emerging as the dark (sorry, saffron) horse in this race. The BJP cadres are not only bolstered by the party'ssuperb performance in the recent elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Delhi but also by the unprecedented solidarity of Hindutva forces in the state, who are sparing no stone unturned to make the party win. If Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath forgot the differences in the larger Hindu interests, Bharatiya Janshakti leader Uma Bharti withdrew her candidates responding to an appeal from VHP Chief Ashok Singhal.
?The going is good and we are getting encouraging reports from all parts of the state?, is how BJP president Rajnath Singh described the party'sperformance in the polls.
?Fortunately for us, the so-called secular vote was divided. Other parties could not mobilise Muslim voters against the BJP as the bogey of communalism against us did not work this time?, said party'svice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Critics had described the BJP'simpressive performance in the UP civic polls last year as a ?fluke? and today they have come to accept that the party has emerged first in the first three phases- areas where Muslim voters accounted for 35 per cent of the electorate.
Notwithstanding the Election Commission'sunfortunate decision to allow Navin Chawla to take part in the hearing against the BJP in the CD case, the morale of the party cadres are on an all-time high. Leading their victory march in the four remaining phases would be none other than the ever popular former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who is all set to hit the campaign trail next week. The nation too is getting ready for an encore performance from the BJP after its recent hatrick.