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Reports of voter discontent doing rounds

Rising prices cause concern among BJP election managers

We are facing angry women who shout at us saying they don’t have the money to get LPG refills, says MLA

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 25.12.21, 02:34 AM
Congress workers protest against price hike of essential commodities in Patna on December 18.

Congress workers protest against price hike of essential commodities in Patna on December 18. PTI Photo

Reports of voter discontent stemming from the rising prices of essential goods and services, from food grains and cooking gas to mobile top-ups, have caused concern among BJP election managers in the five poll-bound states.

Four of these states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — are ruled directly by the BJP, which raises the stakes as well as the fears of price-fuelled anti-incumbency for the party. The fifth state is Congress-ruled Punjab.


“Along with food and LPG prices, people are complaining about mobile top-ups getting costlier,” said a BJP parliamentarian from Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most politically important state where the upcoming Assembly election is expected to act as a barometer for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“Even the poor now use smart phones, which have become an essential part of their life.”

The MP said voters were complaining that their monthly mobile charges had risen from less than Rs 200 to about Rs 300 — a worrisome problem for a party whose poll campaign extensively uses social media platforms.

Party leaders on the ground said the Narendra Modi government’s vaunted free cooking gas connections for the poor might not provided dividends because of the high LPG prices.

“We are facing angry women who shout at us saying they don’t have the money to get LPG refills,” an MLA said.

The MLA added that apart from the lack of jobs, the youth felt burdened by the high petrol prices for their two-wheelers, used widely in rural areas.

Party insiders said the central government had taken steps to tame inflation following feedback from the ground, but rued that no signs of the prices easing were visible yet.

Last month’s reduction in the central excise on petrol and diesel was aimed at reining in inflation, party sources said. With the measure showing no tangible results, the government this week halted futures trading in essential farm commodities, looking to bring down the prices of foodstuff such as pulses and edible oil.

Kadua tel aur dal ki mahangai aam logon ke liye badi musibat ban gaya hai (The prices of mustard oil and lentils have become a big problem for the common people),” a BJP leader managing the campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh said.

“Many voters are complaining that the price rise has made their life difficult.”

The price of mustard oil, the main cooking medium in large parts of the country, now ranges between Rs 180 and Rs 200 a litre. The prices of all pulses have risen by 15 to 20 per cent from last year.

BJP leaders in Delhi said they hoped the halt on futures trading of essential farm commodities, including mustard oil, would cool off the prices by the time the votes are cast.

India’s electoral history shows that high inflation has hurt governments at the polling booths.

The Modi government had been credited with containing inflation after coming to power in 2014. Now, struggling with price rise, it is trying to divert voters’ attention by playing the polarisation card in Uttar Pradesh, according to received wisdom in Delhi’s power corridors.

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