As Phase 5 Ends, Can The Opposition Take On Ram With Samvidhan?

As Phase 5 Ends, Can The Opposition Take On Ram With Samvidhan?

It’s a given that the Ram temple euphoria has evaporated and Samvidhan has dominated the election theme

Neelu VyasUpdated: Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 11:38 AM IST
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The Opposition through the Samvidhan narrative has explained well how the Constitution and reservation have become central to this election | File

With the bulk of the voting over in Uttar Pradesh, the electoral battle has shifted eastward towards Oudh, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand. Large parts of this region are backward and poverty-stricken and politics here has traditionally been different from western UP. When the 2024 elections were announced, most observers held that the BJP would repeat its 2019 performance, when it had swept most of the region with the opposition Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) winning only a few seats. But low voter turnout, lack of a pro-Modi wave and the increasing importance of local issues could mean a tougher contest in the coming phases. The million-dollar question is, can an SP-Congress alliance take on Ram with Samvidhan in eastern Uttar Pradesh?

This question becomes all the more prominent because that’s how the tide for the Opposition seems to have changed. The build up to the Ram temple consecration ceremony by the BJP up till January 22 was so grandiose, the momentum so roaring and thunderous that everyone thought BJP would easily cross the 400 mark. BJP leaders underscored this point as an evidence to their loyalty towards Modi and their party but what they didn’t realise was the weapon they handed on the platter to the Opposition which successfully seems to have weaned away the Ram temple fervour and convert it into a battle for Samvidhan.

Opposition leaders specially Rahul Gandhi bolstered by civil society groups have managed to carry small booklets of the Constitution and convey to the masses that BJP will rewrite the Constitution which ultimately will lead to the chipping away of rights and reservations. Opposition is going door to door explaining through pamphlets how Samvidhan Bachao becomes crucial because the right to protest, right to free speech, benefits accruing from reservations will impact the poorest of the poor specially the STs, STs and OBCs. Villages in Maharashtra saw hordes of people carrying Constitution booklets walking across vast swathes of land. Save the Constitution and Save Democracy have therefore percolated as the most prominent electoral issues apart from price rise, inflation and joblessness. Constitution and Democracy which were considered academic subjects meant for the consumption of the intellectual class have now percolated down to the grassroots level. Civil society groups like Yogendra Yadav’s Jan Swaraj Abhiyan have succeeded in nurturing sentiments for Samvidhan, similar to the sentiments evoked for Ram Temple. The BJP created a religious impulse and what Opposition has stimulated is the sense of being in a democratic India with all the rights. The Opposition through the Samvidhan narrative has explained well how the Constitution and reservation have become central to this election. BJP clearly is on the backfoot and that’s exactly why PM Modi is talking waywardly about mangalsutra, mutton, Mughals and buffaloes which is not making much sense as Samvidhan has overtaken all these issues. Modi’s communal card of dividing the electorate along religious lines has failed miserably.

It’s a given that the Ram temple euphoria has evaporated and Samvidhan has dominated the election theme. Experts say that after 1977 this is the first election where the Constitution and democracy have become potent electoral issues. Modi is likened to a dictatorial force and that’s why there is anger against him on the ground, with strong indications that people want to vote him out.

Neelu Vyas is a senior television anchor and digital content creator. Twitter: @neeluopines

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