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Note ban may hit BJP’s poll prospects: Senior minister

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Gangwar conveys his frank assessment of the ground realities in UP

New Delhi : Union Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar has become the first senior BJP leader to go on record to fear dim prospects for the party in the Uttar Pradesh elections due to the demonetisation, stating that “there is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine.”

 The 68-year old senior MP from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh apparently spoke from his inside knowledge on the note ban as a minister as also from his ear to the ground as he is also heading the BJP poll campaign in western UP.


In his frank assessment conveyed to BJP President Amit Shah to tell Prime Minister Modi, Gangwar said: “Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP….There is tension and we cannot deny it.”

Of the BJP”s 71 BJP MPs (out of total 80), 28 have shared their concern with the party president and many of them have also visited Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to impress upon him to find a quick solution to the cash crunch.

Sensing the mood of these MPs in a meeting convened early this month, Amit Shah promised to call others too for interaction but never called any further meeting.

Former one-day chief minister Jagdamba Pal (66), who defected from Congress to the BJP and won the Domariyaganj Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 elections, was one of the MPs who gave his blunt assessment to Shah in the meeting, stating that “the situation is grim and we cannot ignore it.”

The disquiet within the BJP underscores how far Modi’s popularity will blunt the demonetisation shock as demonetisation has become a central issue in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, whose outcome will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019.

BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao, however, denies any such tension within the BJP as he asserted that the Prime Minister continues to enjoy overwhelming support of people despite the temporary difficulties they faced. “Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in the upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” he added.

Though no official confirmation came from the RSS, the media reports say the RSS leadership got a whiff of the impending demonetisation and counseled Prime Minister Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for the massive exercise, including establishment of two new security printing presses and expansion of the banking network, and roll it out in phases.

An internal report based on assessments received from the party workers says that Modi enjoyed popular support to the demonetisation announcement in the first few days, but shortage of the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes caused tempers to rise as the government could not initiate any quick remedy to the problem hitting the people across the country.