NEW DELHI: The UP results of may have set the tone for a policy blitz in the second phase of Modi’s tenure. The rhetoric around whether demonetisation was sold — essentially as a pro-poor initiative meant to target crass profiteers — is an indicator.
Clues were also on offer in BJP chief Amit Shah’s post-victory press conference. Shah called UP a universal verdict that confirmed the people’s acceptance of the BJP as a pro-poor, pro-Dalit, pro-backward party — a stance that more or less sees the BJP overcome early criticism of being pro-business and essentially replacing the Congress from its old claim to a universalist, inclusive appeal.
At the same time, retaining a broad saffron-tinged orientation will be necessary to keep the faithful happy. Rather than mandir, the Uniform Civil Code and a ban on Triple Talaq may come in handy here — as issues that can be sold as reformist and pro-women.
As for the criticism heaped on note-bandi and the surgical strikes, the PM had the last laugh. UP is a vindication of the BJP’s political technique, with the grand narrative of nationalism allowing it to cast every issue and debate in that light.
The formula has been so successful that even Indira Gandhi’s achievements begin to pale against Modi’s — because she faced no strong regional opponents.
If skeptics were surprised that everyone seemed to have voted for the BJP and its development promise, they failed to read why its universalist promises spoke to a wide range of people.
The Congress, which had started with a grand plan steered by new-age strategist Prashant Kishore, is stuck with its 10 per cent core vote largely intact but rendered insignificant.