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On A piggyback ride

Sunday, 30 March 2014 - 8:00am IST Updated: Sunday, 30 March 2014 - 12:19am IST | Place: Pilibhit | Agency: dna

Narendra Modi had said “mujhe vote do, main tumhe vikas doonga (vote for me and I will give you development)”. A BJP candidate has turned around the slogan around to say “mujhe vote do, main tumhe Modi doonga (vote for me and I will give you Modi).” The BJP has played its trump card — Modi.

For several party candidates their fate in the election seems to be hinged to the party’s prime ministerial candidate. In the Muslim, Dalit and Jat dominated western Uttar Pradesh, BJP candidates are banking on one word “Modi” to break caste barriers in an election revolving around polarisation and development.

“We want Modi,” is a commonly used line by people to express their support for Modi in the constituencies, which go to polls in the first two phases of election, as candidates, party and its symbol, lotus, fade into the background.

In the Modi chant, local leaders, caste affiliations and performance of MPs seeking a second term are being tuned out. A BJP functionary said this had happened in the 1977 elections post-Emergency, when candidates, caste and creed had become insignificant in the anti- Congress wave.

Sociologist Dipankar Gupta says Modi has done to the BJP what Indira Gandhi did to Congress. “This election is not BJP versus Congress. Its Modi versus everyone else. One fight is Modi with the rest and the other Modi with the party. In both, the common factor is Modi and the BJP is of no consequence,” he says.

The resentment against the UPA government is also reflecting in the mood as voters, across castes, say the election is for Delhi, not UP. The BJP posters along the way have only one face — Modi — with a slogan “ab ki baar Modi sarkar” focusing on issues of corruption, price rise, development and unemployment.

The Gujarat chief minister, who was addressing a rally in Baghpat in Western UP on Saturday, said that while in the 1857 war of Independence the slogan was “kamal aur roti”, in 2014 it will be “kamal and Modi”.

In Bijnore, where actress Jaya Prada has been fielded by RLD, Sachin Pawar, a Jat farmer says “she has star appeal but there is a Modi wave.” BJP had decided to replace its candidate Rajendra Singh with Bhartendu SIngh, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots.

In Pilibhit, Congress candidate Sanjay Kapoor’s brother Santosh Kapoor alleges that there has been no development in the constituency, which has been held by BJP. “Maneka Gandhi is banking on the Modi factor,” he says. The seat was earlier held by her son Varun Gandhi.

“We dont know about development here, but we want Modi to be the prime minister,” say Harita and Tulika Bhagwat, first time voters.

Gandhi, a high-profile candidate has her own share of support too in the seat, which she has won five times from the seat.

In Lalorikhera village of the constituency, Shiv Sahay, a Kayasth farmer, and his muslim friend Mohd Kamil both say they will vote for BJP. Kamil is apparently among the minority in his community who pledge their support for BJP.

Congress candidate from Bareili Pravin Aaron says the fate of candidates will depend on the success or failure of RSS.

Rajendra, who runs a dhaba, says Aaron, the sitting MP, has done a lot of work but there is support for Modi. The BJP has fielded Santosh Gangwar from the seat.

Madhu Lal, a vegetable vendor does not know who the BJP candidate is but he will vote for Modi.

Jitendra Tewatia, an expert on jat politics in the region, says the community had distanced from the BJP as it saw it as a Brahmin party, But, the jats have warmed up to the BJP in the aftermath of the riots and with Modi, an OBC, at its helm.

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