Upcoming state elections: price rise will be a key issue

Devsagar Singh

New Delhi, Nov 3: If there is one single issue that might cast its shadow on the   BJP’s fortunes in the upcoming assembly  elections in politically crucial UP and five other states, it is price rise. The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has failed to check rising prices of most commodities. Its current inflation data of 5.39 per cent as on September- end may look manageable by RBI economists, but it is deceptive and has little meaning for the common man who is being forced to shell out more for items of daily consumption like milk, food grains, vegetables, cooking oil, among others.

          The continuous rise in patrol and diesel prices to an all time high  has had an additional cascading effect making things costlier across the board. It has uniformly impacted the rural hinterland from which the BJP gets its sustenance. Many in the party are asking why the Government is not taking steps to check the rising prices on the eve of  the assembly elections. On its part, the Government has little room to manoeuvre  given the huge commitment to the social sector, including free rations to the poor, subsidy to farmers  and free vaccine supply to states etc.

         So, what does the Modi Government do? It is no doubt in a tight spot. Political management is an old game the ruling parties play to win over the electorate. For the BJP, Hindutva and communal divide come in handy, but it has been played much too often. Will it work like before?   Even the BJP insiders differ.  If the results of the just concluded byelections to state assemblies and three Lok Sabha seats are any indication,  the BJP has nothing to cheer about. In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP lost all the three seats. Some say it is a warning bell to the party.

             Clearly,  the Yogi Adityanath Government in UP may have begun to see red now. It is said the Chief Minister is pressing for lowering some state taxes to give relief to voters. It is not easy given the ramifications for the Modi Government at the Centre. Both the PM and the CM appear to be on inaugural spree of various projects in the state to influence voters. This too is an old game the voters are unlikely to be influenced with

. Self praise on unending TV ads are probably counter productive, specially this time round because of the suffering people have gone through during peak corona period when thousands died unattended.

           The Opposition could not have asked for more. Samajwadi Party under Akhilesh Yadav, former CM, looks like emerging as an alternative in UP. The next three months will be crucial for both the ruling BJP and the SP. The BJP has already begun its high pitch campaign. The SP has yet to get traction. If other Opposition parties  are able  to team up behind Akhilesh Yadav,  as is expected,  the BJP will be in serious trouble. The Modi-Shah’s gargantuan election machinery will be put to real test in UP.

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