EVERYBODY was surprised when the Prime Minister of India landed at Safai in Uttar Pradesh last month. Narendra Modi takes every step very cautiously; so which strategy is the Safai visit part of? He went there to attend the tilak ceremony of Tej Pratap Singh, MP, and a grandnephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav. The live TV coverage of the ceremony was watched around the country. Why he attended the festivity has not been answered by the media-savvy PM. The Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Modi, had grabbed 73 of the 80 parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh in the last Lok Sabha elections. While he was touring the state, Modi had said in the election rallies that the “Baap-bete ki sarkar nahin chalegi”. UP voters saw Modi as a colossus who can emancipate them from Yadav clan rule in Uttar Pradesh. So everybody was aghast to see him sitting with Mulayam on one side and Lalu Yadav on the other. How can Modi forget that Mulayam is under investigation in a case of inappropriate assets? Lalu too is also under investigation in the Rs. 4,000-crore fodder scam. What kind of political affinity is this? It is in the public domain that the Mulayam clan hosted the gala for 1.25 lakh guests. How can the authorities take action on this spending spree by a chief minister when the Prime Minister attended the law-violating function? How can Mulayam host a dinner for 1.25 lakh people? A Lohia follower, Mulayam started his career with occupations ranging from wrestling to teaching. A small town boy, he seems to have attained a king-size life in the last 30-odd years. The great socialist leader, Ram Manohar Lohia, neither preached nor practised such extravaganza in public life. In 1987, Devi Lal won 85 out of 90 Assembly seats in Haryana but the people noted that he was trapped by his sons, Om Prakash Chautala and Ranjit Singh. They turned the tables on him and sent him back to his ancestral village, Chautala. Prime Minister Chandrasekhar used to go to Rajasthan and speak against his friend, Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, but afterwards would visit Shekhawat’s residence for a cup of tea. This was never accepted by the voters of India. Friendships and political stands cannot contradict each other.
But Modi might have his own calculations. In the given circumstances, nobody can challenge him till 2019. The UP Assembly elections will be held in 2017 and if the BJP retains its 2014 electoral zeal in UP, the party may form the government in the state. And, having a BJP chief minister with more than 300 MLAs and 80 MPs might prove fatal to Modi’s political stature.
So Modi’s Safai visit has many connotations. The friendship of Modi with Mulayam, Lalu and Nitish Kumar is sending confusing signals. The people of this country are fed up with politics of collusion by so-called socialists and Congress leaders. The emergence of Modi on the political horizon was a relief and a welcome change. That is why Modi became the Prime Minister of India but seeing him indulge in the same political manoeuvres has belied the voters’ faith that he will bring ‘Achche Din’ for them. Times have already changed. Modi’s political tone, behaviour and statesmanship are being noticed round the clock by the voters. They believe that their leader should be honest enough to behave continually in the same vein as he preached in his political discourses. The Delhi Assembly result is an indication for Modi that the political roadmap in Delhi is a little tougher than in Ahmedabad. Both Modi and the BJP say they will change the ethos of the Indian polity but his participation in the Safai festivities goes counter to their claims. If Modi does not shed the political baggage, the day is not far when leaders like Arvind Kejriwal will emerge and rake in the political legacy inherited by him.