With less than 18 months left for the next Lok Sabha poll in 2019, the recent incidents in the VIP constituencies of Gorakhpur and Varanasi, which put the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dispensation in Uttar Pradesh on the back foot and scurrying for cover, are ample reasons for setting the alarm bells ringing for the saffron party and its spin doctors.
is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gorakhpur
was, till last week, being represented by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
in Parliament. Yogi had vacated the Gorakhpur
seat on September 21, marking the end of consecutively representing the constituency for five terms since 1998. However, he still is the presiding seer of the Gorakhpur-based poweful Gorakshnath Peeth.
On August 10 and 11, Gorakhpur
was rocked by the death of children at the super specialty Baba Rabhav Das Medical College over alleged disruption of oxygen supply in the critical care wards due to the non-payment of outstanding bills. Later, a police case was lodged against nine persons, including doctors, clerks, pharmacists and the private oxygen supplier. All of them have been arrested.
The incident had made national
headlines and bestowed an opportunity to the opposition to corner the Yogi government for alleged criminal negligence and sloppy governance. The denial stance adopted by the state coupled with some brusque statements by top functionaries had further fuelled the controversy, inflicting more damage to Yogi and his self-proclaimed pro-people stance.
Now, while the Yogi government was still celebrating its first six months of rule, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) incident broke out. Girl students at BHU
protesting eve teasing on the campus and demanding better safety measures were mercilessly cane-charged and injured by the police, on the day when Modi was visiting his constituency.
Piqued over the incident, the Yogi government is now hinting at a conspiracy by the opposition to tarnish its image and hijacking the incident for political reasons.
While the then proctor O P Singh had tendered his resignation following the incident, BHU
Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi has been facing flak for his failure to contain the conflagration and pre-empting the unfortunate incident, although it had been simmering for quite some time and repeatedly ignored by the authorities.
Some of the sexist comments issued by the BHU
officials and mishandling of the incident have again put the Yogi government in a tight spot.
BJP, which is gearing up for the urban local bodies poll slated in November to select mayors and corporators will find the going tough, since the two incidents have painted the government negatively and put a question mark on its efficiency to deal with big issues if it is unable to manage affairs as routine as health and education. This perception coupled with other macro factors inflation, economic slowdown, rising fuel prices, job losses etc would further test the party at the hustings.
Meanwhile, according to sources, a preliminary probe conducted by the Varanasi
commissioner had already indicted the BHU
administration over the incident and their laxity in resolving the matter amicably.
UP health minister and spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said there was a need for the dialogue with the students. “The BHU
administration should have maintained communication with the students on the campus. A magisterial inquiry is still on and we would know of any such lapses occurring on the part of the concerned authorities for possible action.”
Opposition Samajwadi Party
leader and spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary criticised the handling of the situation by the BHU
vice chancellor, while strongly condemning the use of force on girls, who he said had been protesting peacefully. “BJP
is floating the conspiracy angle to save its skin. The incident actually indicates the communal agenda of the ruling party.”