Wednesday, May 29, 2024

UP 2022: BJP’s poll juggernaut, Yogi’s bulldozer on roll; Akhilesh, Shivpal bond again

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Beginning the year with a big win in the assembly polls, the BJP also breached the Samajwadi Party citadels in Azamgarh and Rampur – building momentum for 2024 General Election.

The party conquered Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s bastion in Rampur, winning the bye-elections for the Lok Sabha seat and the Rampur Sadar assembly constituency, which had elected Khan 10 times in a row.

But its winning streak broke with bypoll defeats in Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency — which had fallen vacant after the death of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav — and the Khatauli assembly segment it had won in the 2017 and the 2022 state elections.

The year saw controversies over the use of bulldozers to demolish properties of alleged gangsters, and a revival of sorts of temple-mosque disputes in Varanasi and Mathura.

Dashing the hopes of a resurgent SP led by Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP registered a comfortable victory in the February-March assembly election, paving the way for the return of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister for a second consecutive term — a rare, first-in-decades feat in Uttar Pradesh politics.

The state polls on which the nation’s attention was hooked saw an improved performance by the SP which got 111 seats out of 403, against 47 five years ago.

But the Congress (two seats) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (one seat) were decimated.

Later, the BJP won Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats, where bypolls were held after Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan vacated them on becoming MLAs.

The BJP also wrested the Muslim-dominated Rampur Sadar assembly seat, which had been Khan’s pocket borough for nearly 45 years.

BJP’s Akash Saxena defeated Khan’s pick Asim Raja.

The bypoll was held there following Khan’s disqualification from the assembly, after the district court sent him to prison for three years in a hate speech case.

Another conviction led to two-term BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini being disqualified from Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal won the bypoll there, defeating Saini’s wife fielded by the BJP.

Urban local body polls are next.

Earlier this week, the Allahabad High Court scrapped an election notification by the UP government for not following the Supreme Court guidelines while reserving seats for the Other Backward Classes in these polls.

As the opposition targets the BJP over the “anti-OBC” development, Adityanath has said the municipal polls will be held only with the OBC reservation.

A day after the legal setback, his government has appointed a commission to set things right.

The “chacha-bhatija” drama continued to play on the sidelines.

Nudged by Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Shivpal Singh Yadav came together before the assembly elections, only to separate again after the results were out and the senior Yadav appeared to be drifting towards the ruling BJP.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s death on October 10, however, again brought the uncle and the nephew together, the fourth time in six years.

Shivpal Singh Yadav even campaigned for Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple in Mainpuri to protect Mulayam’s “legacy.”

During the campaign, Akhilesh Yadav touched his uncle’s feet.

Adityanath’s second term saw bulldozers demolishing properties of alleged criminals and people involved in riots, earning the CM the sobriquet of “Baba Bulldozer”.

Those on the receiving end included “politician-criminals” Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed.

The opposition accused the BJP government of mainly targeting Muslims.

But the government said the properties were built illegally, and each time the process of law was followed in razing them.

The Adityanath government got loudspeakers dialled down or removed from mosques and establishments of other faiths.

Officials also acted rapidly in cases of the namaz being offered on roads and other public places.

The Ram temple construction in Ayodhya gained pace, and the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust said devotees will be able to offer prayers there in January 2024.

But the construction of a new mosque in Ayodhya on a five-acre site is yet to start, with the Indo-Islamic Foundation waiting for clearance of building plans by the Ayodhya Development Authority.

The 2019 Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya dispute had paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple at the site where the Babri mosque was demolished in 1992.

The court had also ordered allocation of land for building a new mosque.

The simmering Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi Vishwanath temple dispute came into focus again this year with a Varanasi court allowing a videography survey of the mosque, located next to the temple.

The district court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before idols on a mosque wall.

The Allahabad High Court is also in the picture.

And cases related to Krishna Janmabhoomi-Idgah mosque dispute are being heard in Mathura courts as well as the high court.

The UP government ordered surveys of private madrasas state-wide, triggering a row briefly.

It said it planned to ensure that subjects like Science and computer literacy are also taught there.

Apart from the Deepotsav on the banks of river Saryu in Ayodhya, where lakhs of earthen lamps are lit ahead of Diwali, the state this year also hosted a month-long Kashi-Tamil Sangamam showcasing the cultural bond between Tamil Nadu and the pilgrim town.

A fire at Levana Suites hotel in Lucknow left four people dead and at least 10 injured, highlighting negligence towards fire safety norms.

As 2022 neared its end, the state government sent its ministers abroad to invite investors to a global summit in February.

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