#UP2017: What The Media Missed Was There For All To See

#UP2017: What The Media Missed Was There For All To See

by Vikas Saraswat - Mar 12, 2017 11:17 AM +05:30 IST
#UP2017: What The Media Missed Was  There For All To SeeJaunpur 
  • This mandate as much a backlash against communal goondaism as it is for development 

For diligent journalists and astute columnists reporting and commenting on elections, it shouldn't really be difficult to pick voter moods and electoral shifts on ground. For every identity-wedded voter or a staunch party loyalist there is also a floating or undecided voter who isn't difficult to distinguish. With ears to the ground, one doesn't need to wait for exit polls to confirm the trends, particularly when one party were to end up with a four-fifths majority. But then, both, diligent reporters and astute commentators are a rarity in media. Instead we have participative journalists and opinionated columnists who would rather have their biases disseminated than the sanctity of journalism maintained.

Commentaries which sought to influence readers rather than inform them, after the election results, can again be trusted to peddle agendas instead of analysing the verdict honestly. Add to that the penchant for political correctness- both from media as well as political parties including BJP, and one may never read the actual reasons which led to the historic verdict in UP assembly elections.

As it turns out, neither the "Jat disenchantment" nor "demonestisation woes", which a section of media harped on relentlessly, could affect BJP fortunes. If at all, demonetisation only strengthened PM Modi's image as a decisive, honest and able leader. RLD's miserable performance confirms that Jat vote, despite frenetic campaigning by Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary, remained by and large with BJP.

With elaborate constituency wise micro mangement and meticulous planning, Amit Shah has again proved that he has few competitors among contemporary politicians when it comes to strategising. But the kind of verdict which UP threw up owed to more than simple strategising, howsoever carefully planned it might have been. Throwing away the yoke of dynasty and caste politics, the verdict is also something which transcended the very normal yearning for development.

There is no doubt that successful delivery on fronts such as electrification of villages, toilets and gas cylinders to BPL families under ‘Ujjwala Yojana’ have endeared a large section of poor voters to PM Modi but close to 42 per cent vote share and eighty percent seats is the sort of wave which is characterised either by a strong emotive issue or paranoia and deep resentment.

Political correctness in mainstream media wouldn't concede but the fact is that verdict in UP assembly elections is a resounding slap against communal goondaism. This goondaism hasn't manifested itself only in riots at regular intervals across the state but also in the day to day administrative functioning. Underground laying of cables was stopped in some Muslim-majority areas after protests and rioting. Electrification and road laying was prioritised in Muslim and Yadav majority districts. So if there were developmental projects in Rampur, Azamgarh, Etawah and Mainpuri, the neighbouring districts were left high and dry. Even freebies such as laptop distribution among students were marred by partisanship.

But the worst part was politicisation of Police and administration. It was next to impossible to lodge complaints against perpetrators of crime if they happened to be from the Muslim and Yadav communities. In more than half of the police stations one could find SHOs with Yadav surname. It is for such reasons that despite the media feigning horror at PM's mention of "Kabristan versus Shamshan", the sentiment resonated with voters.

Communal polarisation which some in the media are shuddering at- more so because it benefits BJP, is actually counter polarisation resulting from Muslim belligerence aided and abetted by appeasement politics which went to the extent of condoning violence and shamelessly shielding culprits if they happened to be Muslims. To illustrate the issue, in a typical case of administrative partisanship, just about a month back some Muslim youth attacked a group of devotees in a temple in Sultanpura locality of Agra. However the next day, the police arrested the victims instead of perpetrators.

One of the major reasons of the Muzaffarnagar riots was the sacking of District Magistrate Surendra Singh and Superintendent Of Police, Manzil Saini for daring to arrest killers of Gaurav and Sachin. From Muzaffarnagar and Shamli to Moradabad, Bareilly and Pratapgarh the pattern repeated itself in whole of UP and not just in case of riots but also skirmishes and petty crimes. The partisanship in administration was so blatant that mainstream media itself was being viewed as a party to crime for suppressing it.

For all the fretting and fuming in media over supposed polarisation, credit must be given to the patient UP electorate for avenging a deeply communal reign by the power of vote. BJP, on its part, must also realise that this mandate is first and foremost to check the menace of communal goondaism while delivering development alongside. It doesn't need a social scientist to tell that security is a greater fundamental concern than development. That is the reason an overwhelming number of voters in this election are standing at the safety base of Maslow's pyramid.

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