This looks like a classic case of square pegs in round holes. A slogan similar to something that worked miracles for the mahagathbandhan in Bihar may prove counterproductive for the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
Prashant Kishor, considered a master strategist, apparently coined the slogan "Apne ladke banam bahari Modi" (our boys versus the outsider Modi) for Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls to capture the sentiment of the voters, possibly taking a leaf out of his successful experiment in Bihar, where the slogan of "Bihari vs Bahari" worked wonders for the JDU-RJD combine. However, the same may not yield the desired results. On the contrary, it may prove counterproductive for the combine.
At a tea stall in Isanagar area of Lakhimpur, people sat huddled on stained benches discussing the rally of Akhilesh Yadav. I threw the topic for open discussion hoping to get some interesting responses. The owner stirring the boiling tea put a counter-question to me: "Is Modi an an outsider? If he is, why did he contest from Varanasi?" The man soon launched into a sermon — "Modi is just as much an outsider as Rahul (Gandhi)."
|'Modi is just as much an outsider as Rahul (Gandhi).'|
An old woman lamented the huge exodus from the district, saying she has no pension, and employment opportunities are limited. "For us, the main issue is employment. It is about non-payment of dues to the sugarcane farmers."
An old man, enjoying the last sip of his tea with a slurp, said, "There is a difference between Saifai and Lakhimpur." Apparently he was drawing parallels between the growth in Saifai — the pocket borough of UP's first family — and that of highly underdeveloped Lakhimpur. An old farmer, who already owes money to the tea-stall owner, indicated that he was waiting for the clearance of his dues from the sugarcane mill. He said that several farmers had taken to alternate crops due to non-payment of dues.
The issue for him was non-payment of dues and both Rahul and Akhilesh were as much an outsider as Modi.
Not far from the place, some displaced villagers in Hulaspurwa have declared candidates from the area as outcast and not allowing them to enter the village for campaigning. They are nurturing a grudge for being "dumped" since their villages got washed away by the floods in Ghaghra river.
Some youngsters argued again: "If Modi is an outsider, why would he choose Varanasi?"
It was clear that the slogan of "outsider versus our boys" has evoked no sympathetic echo.
On the contrary, people feel the phrase was coined to deflect the voters' attention from core issues of lawlessness and underdevelopment.
The message by these voters is loud and clear: There aren't too many people interested in jumping into an outsider versus insider battle.