How Mayawati, Mulayam are trying to use demonetisation against Modi

BSP has come up with a unique formula to refill its coffers.

 |  4-minute read |   10-11-2016

Rattled by the demonetisation of rupee notes of denomination 1,000 and 500, politicians busy preparing for the 2017 electoral battle in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh seem to be going berserk.

While there was much commotion in all political camps  after the news, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had to face the brunt of the landmark decision, is alleged to have come up with a unique formula to refill its coffers.

If insiders are to be believed, ticket aspirants who were understood to have shelled out a hefty “fee”, were now told to take back their money and replace it with either the new currency or gold or even diamonds.

The party, which commands unflinching support from the 20 per cent Dalit votebank and has ruled UP four times, is notorious for issuing party tickets strictly against a fee - ranging between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 4 crore - charged under the garb of donation to the party fund.

Since a large chunk of the party’s tickets for UP’s 403 state Assembly constituencies had been awarded months ago, the desired “fee” was naturally paid in the currency of the day.

But now that the same ceases to be legal tender, aspirants have been advised to take back their cash and replace it with the new currency or gold or diamond.

This followed a closed-door meeting convened by party supremo Mayawati at her 13-A Mall Avenue residence in Lucknow on Wednesday. A large number of ticket aspirants made a beeline for her opulent Rs 103-crore mansion built at government expense during Mayawati’s last stint as chief minister.

What was unusual about this meeting was that these aspirants, as well as other party leaders, were allowed to drive inside the bungalow in their respective vehicles - in a glaring departure from the past when no vehicle was allowed inside her driveway.

All visitors, irrespective of status or position, had to necessarily disembark outside her 18-feet tall boundary wall and go through the security drill before walking up to the imposing  pink stone  building, overlooking giant statues of her political mentor and BSP founder Kanshi Ram as well as her own.

These vehicles - believed to be carrying suitcases - were driven straight into the huge underground parking lot under the sprawling lawns from where they re-emerged at equal intervals.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Mayawati expressed her chagrin while lambasting PM Narendra Modi for the demonetisation move and terming it as some kind of an “economic emergency”.

Condemning it as an “anti-poor” exercise, she accused Modi of misusing the measure as a political tool at a time when several states were ready to go to the polls.

“It is evident that such a step has been taken only after the ruling party’s next 100 years have been taken care of,” alleged Mayawati . She further sought to know that "if the PM was really so passionate about initiating action against black money, why was he sitting silent for two-and-a-half years?”

Interestingly, Mayawati’s bête noire, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, came up with something even more amusing. “The Samajwadi Party has always been against black money; in fact our icon Ram Monohar Lohiaji was the first Indian politician to raise his voice against black money,” he claimed.

“But the manner in which the Modi government has taken this action smacks of BJP’s instinctive apathy towards the poor and the downtrodden who will be the worst hit on account of this move,” he told mediapersons.

“It is in the larger interest of the common man that I would like to urge the PM to review his decision and give at least a week’s time to the people,” Mulayam quipped.

The discomfort on account of Modi’s action, that took the entire nation by surprise, was writ large on Mulayam’s face. He refused to take any questions and insisted on sticking to his monologue , which included some words of concern for “poor farmers”.

Ironically, the SP government under his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav  are yet to declare the minimum purchase price for sugarcane even as the crushing season has begun in some 38 sugar mills across the state - reflecting his actual concern for the farmer.

Even more incredible was the remark of veteran BJP leader Lalji Tandon, who has had long stints as minister in different  BJP governments over the years in Uttar Pradesh.

“It is a hard reality that most elections are fought with black money; you let me know one such case where black money has not been used in a poll,” Tandon told a national TV channel, while commenting on the PM's strike against black money. “Therefore, this action was bound to have its impact on the coming elections in Uttar Pradesh," he admitted.

As for the Congress, its leadership continued to insist on seeking an explanation from Modi on why he had not fulfilled his “promise” of transferring Rs 15 lakh into every Indian’s account after retrieving the country’s black money stashed in foreign banks?

Also read: 'If my wife dies, let the government know I will donate her body to them'

Writer

Sharat Pradhan Sharat Pradhan @sharatpradhan21

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Lucknow.

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