LUCKNOW: Riding high on the Modi mega wave, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept the UP Assembly elections 2017 emphatically by winning a historic mandate with over three-fourths majority. The SP-Congress alliance tally shrunk to 54 against 224 in 2012, while the BSP ended its journey with just 19 seats against 80 in 2012, the poorest-ever show by the blue brigade.
While UP-2017 was a matter of political survival for Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, it was a test of acceptance for UP CM Akhilesh Yadav as the new SP chief.
It was also a trial for Mayawati’s tried and tested social engineering formula. All three failed in their trials with the SP-Congress alliance failing to impress the voters with its much-hyped “UP ko yeh saath pasand hai” slogan.
On the other hand, the BJP cashed in on the mass appeal and charisma of Modi, who has emerged much stronger and the only dominating figure on the political horizon, post-UP victory.
What’s more, the deftly crafted caste dynamics by master strategist and party chief Amit Shah also helped the party in turning the tide completely to its favour.
Modi, as the star campaigner, pulled the fight off with aplomb. He led the State’s political discourse, leaving rivals to follow.
If one were to retrace the course of BJP’s grand march to the Lucknow throne, one would find that the party secured a massive 42 per cent vote share, leaving 28 per cent for the SP-Congress combine and 23 per cent for the BSP. The rest got 7 per cent while NOTA got 0.9 per cent.
This time around the saffron party crafted an invincible caste matrix to trump BSP’s Muslim-Dalit social engineering formula and SP-Congress’s Muslim-Yadav-upper caste equation.
While the other two stakeholders were busy wooing the minorities, the BJP was targeting the floating non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav MBC vote bank with the traditional upper caste consolidation behind it. This helped the party win all the 19 seats in the Dalit-dominated Bundelkhand region and 51 seats in eastern UP.
Apart from taking on the stronghold of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, which kept the two regional parties in power for around 15 years, by anointing Keshav Maurya as the State BJP president a year ahead of polls, the party also distributed ticket to over 40 per cent of OBCs.
This time the BJP made a good use of rivals’ Muslim appeasement policy. It banked on the reverse polarisation in its favour, winning over 100 of 136 seats in Muslim-dominated western UP. The foundation for it was made when Mayawati gave about 100 tickets to Muslims triggering a race with the SP.
This resulted in reverse polarisation of majority vote in favour of the BJP. The SP drubbing can be attributed to its family feud which resulted in Mulayam’s upstaging and also the alliance with Congress which never really took off.
All in the game
The election results in UP threw up surprises with some popular candidates facing defeat
Kaam bolta hai?
Controversial UP minister of food and civil supplies Raja Bhayya was thought to be vulnerable in Kunda given his links to crime and the underworld. But considering his Robin Hood image, the long-time MLA won the Kunda seat comfortably, beating a challenge from Parvez Akhtar (BSP), Janki Sharan (BJP) and Ram Kripal of Congress.
No takers for newbies
SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav lost to BJP’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi in Lucknow Cantonment. While former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Joshi secured 95,402 votes, Aparna Yadav got only 61,606 votes, securing the second place. The BSP’s Yogesh Dixit got 26,036 votes.
Daughter versus nephew
BJP MP Hukum Singh — who raised a hue and cry over the alleged exodus of Hindus from the Kairana constituency last year — had fielded his daughter Mriganka Singh there. Her main opponent was Singh’s nephew and RLD candidate Anil Chauhan. However, SP candidate Nahid Hasan swept a majority with a total of 98,830 votes.