Power equation changes gears in UP

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Lucknow, March 12: The change in Lucknow's corridors of power is swift and predictable. On Saturday (March 11) evening when the ascendancy of the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in Uttar Pradesh was confirmed, mediapersons received a mail from the UP Government's Personnel and Appointments Department mentioning that seven IAS officers working as Principal Secretary, Secretary or Special Secretary in the Chief Minister's Office had been relieved from their duties. These were the officers synonymous with Akhilesh Yadav's office, earlier in the Secretariat Annexe Building, and later in the newly-built Lok Bhawan opposite the Vidhan Bhawan.

BJP

Not only a change in the Vidhan Bhawan - the seat of Legislature and the Government - had had its immediate reflection in the composition of top guns working in the building situated right opposite, but the environment and activities at the party offices of all except the BJP underwent a sudden change as the day wore on.

For the last five years the Samajwadi Party office on Vikramaditya Marg had been the hub of activity with people, vehicles and hangers-on thronging the building on all days, at all hours. Similarly, the Bahujan Samaj Party office in Mall Avenue, too, used to see a lot of hectic movement and till a couple of days ago, leaders and workers used to collect for meetings and discussions. But it wore a deserted look on March 11 as the pathetic performance of Mayawati's party drove away leaders and supporters. 

The UP Congress Committee office in Mall Avenue, too, wore a silent, deserted look by Saturday afternoon and on Sunday there was no one there except the watch and guard staff and some maintenance people.

On the contrary, the BJP state office, also situated opposite the Vidhan Bhawan, wore a festive and noisy look right since Saturday afternoon with repeated bouts of fireworks, music, dance and flying gulal and colours. It was after years that this office saw such a scene, since it had been the sight of demonstrations, slogan-shouting and police lathi-charge all these years. The office had been renovated and extended last year and going by the crowd of people and vehicles, it appeared as it would need to be expanded further very soon.

Even as the talk about the next Chief Minister dominated the discussions in BJP office as well as among people in general, the amazing results of the Assembly election continue to evoke likely and unlikely theories about what caused the landslide win for the BJP. On Saturday, when Mayawati said at a hurriedly-called press conference that she suspected tampering with the EVMs, there were few takers for her allegation. But most people agreed with her observation that it was difficult to swallow the fact that the BJP had won massively even in Muslim and Dalit-dominated areas.

Although it is no one's argument that Muslims and Dalits cannot vote for the party they want to, it is difficult for the people in UP to accept that the BJP has won from major Muslim-dominated areas like Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Basti and others. Many mediapersons and other political observers who used to wonder at the logic behind candidate selection by the BJP, including the choice of defectors at several places, are now left with only one answer that it was the face of Narendra Modi that mattered, rather than the party or even the candidate.

"It is the victory of the people's faith in Narendra Modi," said Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who won from Lucknow Cantonment defeating Aparna Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter in-law. Similar views have been expressed by other BJP leaders who agree that it was Modi magic which swayed the people.

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