Arvind Kejriwal recently taunted PM Narendra Modi on twitter, claiming that the PM was looking nervous in an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. Kejriwal’s hatred for Modi is well known, but if he would have just looked at his fellow chief minister Akhilesh Yadav now, he would have realised who really was nervous.
Social media and various “mood” of Uttar Pradesh surveys are agog with speculation that BJP is gaining huge ground in the Uttar Pradesh elections. Agencies like 5Forty3 have published study after study indicating a BJP sweep in Uttar Pradesh. Even hard-core anti-BJP journalists like Shekhar Gupta have openly admitted that at least Modi’s popularity is unblemished in the past 3 odd years and BJP could perform even better than what it did in 2014, if Lok Sabha polls were held now.
Day3 Findings #UPElection2017 Modi’s own popularity is mostly intact. BJP will easily sweep a fresh Lok Sabha poll more or less as in 2014
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) February 20, 2017
On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav maybe sweating it out. The SP camp has in fact tried everything: The so-called “war” in the family has been quelled to a large extent, an alliance with Congress has been forged, Congress even recently brought out Priyanka Gandhi (albeit only to be ridiculed) to attack BJP. With all these and many more stratagem, one would have expected Akhilesh to be calm, but his recent outbursts have shredded the veneer of tranquillity.
The first signs of Akhilesh Yadav’s nervousness were clear when he made the following statement:
Have you seen the ad of a donkey on TV? We will tell the mahanayak, don’t campaign for donkeys. Have you ever heard of campaigning for donkeys? Gujarat’s people are doing campaigns for donkeys
Was he referring to PM Modi as a “donkey”, or was he referring to this 2 year old ad for wild asses of Gujarat? Explicitly, it might have been targeted at the ad, but even a novice in politics will agree that CM candidate of India’s most important state (electorally), will not go after an ad. The target was Gujarat, and by association, the PM, who hails form Gujarat.
This might be the first instance of a star leader using such abusive and disrespectful language towards an opponent in this election season. Smaller leaders may keep erring on this aspect but when the main leader of the party attacks in such a crass manner, it speaks volumes. Not only is Modi the Prime Minister of the country, he is a senior politician and way older than Akhilesh. Nervous is the word.
This “donkey” jibe might well prove to be the equivalent of Modi questioning Nitish Kumar’s DNA in the last Bihar elections. At the very least, such a remark will definitely not add to Akhilesh’s popularity, if not reduce it. One the one hand Modi highlighted the politics of religious discrimination in Uttar Pradesh, and on the other hand, his opponent is busy name-calling.
Another incident came to light this week where again Akhilesh was referred to as being abusive. Rajdeep Sardesai may have painstakingly crafted a family-man image for Akhilesh via his softball interview, but on Rajdeep’s own channel Aaj Tak, this facade was also broken.
In a TV shown on Aaj Tak, journalists discussed how Akhilesh had recently abused a journalist:
The journalists revealed that Akhilesh had used the choicest abuses for one of their colleagues, abuses which could not even repeated on national television. The panel discussed how Akhilesh might be frustrated and agitated, possibly due to ground reports that SP is under-performing in the elections. Anti-Modi journalist Javed Ansari tried to cover up for Akhilesh Yadav saying that Akhilesh is usually much more calm and composed and he was under pressure, but that is precisely the message people are getting: Akhilesh is nervous and under pressure.
The reason for Akhilesh’s sudden outbursts could be that he has now realised that things are going really down south for his party. Modi’s charisma seems to be intact and BJP for the first time in many years is in the reckoning.
And inspite of his best efforts, he has problems in his own backyard as well. Although the alliance with Congress brings about some consolidation of votes, it also brings into play another factor: 100+ SP aspirants had to be sacrificed to accommodate Congress. This has caused discontent among the rejected aspirants and many of them are either contesting as rebels or have switched over to other parties like BSP, BJP and RLD.
Further, even though the patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s fury seems to have been contained, Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal continues to be a thorn in his neck. In fact, in Etawah, where Shivpal is contesting on the SP ticket, Akhilesh ended up campaigning against Shivpal Yadav and thereby against SP itself. Akhilesh is reported to have said:
Those who have created a rift between me and Netaji (Mulayam), people of Etawah teach them a lesson. People, whom I trusted, they made me and Netaji fight. They wanted to take the cycle, but they have lost their own cycle.
Given all of this, it is understandable that Akhilesh Yadav is under tremendous pressure in the first election where he is leading the party virtually in the absence of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. But the patch of abusive diarrhoea which Akhilesh seems to be going through may be symptoms of the the degree and extent of pressure he is under, and succumbing to. Perhaps its time for another fluff piece in the Economic Times to re-polish the Mr Clean image of Akhilesh.