The Bharatiya Janata Party’s unprecedented victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections has left everyone asking the same question – how did the party manage to register such a thumping majority?
Here are eight reasons why the BJP won big in the state.
Much of the credit for the BJP’s win in Uttar Pradesh goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The win is testament to the appeal he enjoys among the people of the state.
During the party’s aggressive campaigning, PM Modi did not forgo a single opportunity to lead from the front, even if that meant a prolonged stay in Varanasi.
A lot was said about demonetisation – and its effects on the common man.
However, the way things have panned out, it appears as though the poor did not care much about the note ban. An overwhelming number of people believe it was a step to weed out corruption by punishing the rich.
The Union Budget, which came close on the heels of the scrapping of the high-value currency notes, was touted to be a pro-poor budget – with the government promising loan waivers and populist schemes for the poor.
Despite pressure, the BJP did not declare a chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh. Somewhere, it helped enhance the party’s efforts to reach out to Dalit and Economically Backward Classes (EBC) voters.
If BJP fielded a candidate from a particular social group, the party ran the risk of alienating another group. For instance, had the party announced the candidature of a hardliner like Yogi Adityanath, it might have significantly affected the party’s chances of getting votes among those who support the Prime Minister’s pro-vikas image.
For the BJP, the winnability of candidates was the sole selection criterion, even if that meant importing leaders and accommodating them.
The BJP welcomed leaders from other parties, and even accommodated their associates at the cost of alienating some of its own established support base – a risk that had to be taken in order to expand its social base. It appears as though the gamble has paid off.
Appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya as state president was an important step in the direction of consolidating the non-Yadav OBC votes.
It was important for the BJP to shed its tag of being a party of savarns (Brahmins and Baniyas); and the timing of the change of guard at the state unit a few months before the elections was aimed at just that.
In a state with a sizeable Muslim population, an aggressive Hindutva push may not have worked in many constituencies. However, a covert and controlled dose did wonders.
Even Modi’s kabristan-shamshan ghat comment was accurately timed. It came after elections in three phases were over. In subsequent phases, Muslims did not have the numbers to decisively impact the outcome.
Bahujan Samaj Party-supremo Mayawati has used a Dalit-Muslim and Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin alliance in the past, and she sought Dalit and caste Hindu votes in the assembly elections based on this.
The BSP had fielded Muslim candidates in 97 seats, OBCs in 106 seats and upper castes in 117 seats. But her social engineering failed miserably this time. It is very likely that some of these influential social groups may have switched sides and voted for the BJP.
Fielding young leaders even at the risk of replacing veterans worked for the BJP.
Shyamdev Roy Chaudhari (Dada) was denied a ticket from the Varanasi South constituency in favour of a younger Brahmin leader. There was a lot of resentment, but it paid off and the pattern considered fraught with risk initially may work in the future too.