The recent Agusta Chopper deal revelations by middlemen Christian Michel and others in custody have given a big handle to the BJP to counter the Congress charge of corruption in the Raphael deal. Coming six days before the first phase of polling commences, PM Modi went ballistic on the Congress and Gandhi family in a rally in Dehradun, accusing them of being beneficiaries of commissions paid by the middlemen involved in the deal.
Christian Michel was recently deported to India and is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). His diaries, now in possession with the ED, refers to ‘AP’ and ‘Fam’ as recipients of commission. PM Modi today named ‘AP’ as Ahmed Patel and ‘Fam’ as family, referencing the Gandhi family.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too in a press conference today named the Gandhi’s as the recipient of commissions
However, in an embarrassing development, Michel later in the day told the Judge in a Delhi Court that he has not named anyone, reports PTI.
The Prime Minister has been at the receiving end of corruption charges and jibes made by Rahul Gandhi in connection with the Raphael fighter jet deal.
YSRCP leader Jagan Mohan will support any party which offers ‘special status’ to AP
Speaking to the press today, Jagan Mohan Reddy added to poll suspense saying his party was ready to extend support to any party committing to extending ‘special status’ to Andhra Pradesh. The announcement sent poll analysts and various party strategists into a tizzy trying to figure out which party was he hinting at with only six days for the first phase of voting.
TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and CM of A.P has been seeking special status category for the status and is a sensitive poll issue. The fight for Lok Sabha and assembly elections is a three-way fight between TDP, YSRCP with support from TRS, and Pawan Kalyan’s JSP-BSP alliance.
The Congress which has been marginalized in the state now sees an opportunity of an unofficial alliance with Jagan Mohan’s YSRCP. Rahul Gandhi has already promised special status for A.P if his government comes to power but has failed to strike an alliance with Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP.
It will be interesting to see how TRS reacts if Jagan Mohan Reddy’ YSRCP allies with the Congress.
Eastern and western UP’s electoral diversity a challenge for parties
The Hindustan Times has published an article highlighting the differences in electoral priorities between eastern and western UP. Western UP is more prosperous with sugarcane as the main cash crop and farmers having larger land holdings than their counterparts in the east. It is a land where caste and community have resulted in greater polarization than in the east, but issues around sugarcane help people unite over common interests.
Eastern UP is known to have helped several politicians become Prime Ministers but has remained largely underdeveloped. Unlike in western UP, Hindutva resonates deeper in the eastern region though it is less polarized.
It throws up several challenges for the political parties which are struggling to balance caste arithmetic with economic agenda.
Each party has caste-based strengths in certain areas, but the voter base lacks agreement on economic issues. For instance, the BJP is focusing on national security and farmer relief to counter the caste and community-based focus of the SP-BSP. Congress is focusing on economic issues like jobs and a minimum income program to overcome its lack of caste-based penetration.
Then there is the difference in approach required between eastern and western U.P. 23 May will reveal which party and alliance came out successful in correctly predicting the equations and people’s desire.