Lucknow: The show put up by BJP and its allies in UP in 2019 general elections may come as a case study for political pundits who had written the party off,
Predicting doom for it with just 20 seats given the formidable challenge posed by SP-BSP-RLD alliance.
The BJP picked up the gauntlet and moved ahead by taking it as the fight for 50 per cent and accomplishing the feat with confidence.
BJP’s victory, in fact, has established UP CM Yogi Adityanath as the third most prominent face of the party after Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Much was at stake for Yogi Adityanath. When anointed CM in 2017, he was assigned 2014 redux in UP in 2019 battle.
His challenge got bigger when SP and BSP gravitated to each other after 2018 by-poll win and joined hands believing Muslim-Yadav-Dalit vote math in their favour as the only formula for UP’s conquest.
Yogi Adityanath had daunting task to create a pro-incumbency pulse for Centre through speedy execution of flagship welfare schemes and also keep its caste calculus inclusive of BJP’s core upper caste, non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit voters which had worked in 2017 to party’s favour.
Besides drawing the chunks of SP- BSP clout to party fold was an added responsibility. He succeeded in this mission by deft deliverance of welfare schemes on the ground and stitching up caste calculus with alacrity.
“I used to gauge public mood during my rallies. We get to know it from the body language of people who attend poll rallies. I would give that feedback to my candidates. I would caution them to pull up socks where equations were hostile,” said Yogi Aditaynath while sharing his 2019 poll experiences with a band of senior journalists.
He cited the example of Azamgarh where he told the party candidate Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua, pitted against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, to woo at least 25% Yadav vote bank to emerge victorious otherwise the contest was tough.
Similarly, the CM shared how booth-level micromanagement came handy in Gorakhpur which was a battle of prestige for him after 2018 by-poll debacle.
“When I visited Gorakhpur after the announcement of the name of the candidate, I did not get very positive vibes. The election was being poorly managed. Initially, I thought of even changing the candidate (actor-turned-politician Ravi Kishan) but then took the command in my hands, assigned tasks to everyone and started taking feedbacks every evening,” he said.
Yogi stayed put in Gorakhnath Mutt till last vote was cast. His management not only helped party reclaim its lost fort with a huge margin but also led it winning all nine seats of the division.
Giving a sense of how party’s master strategist Amit Shah had laid out a roadmap for booth-level micro-management much in advance to counter alliance in UP, he claimed campaigns like ‘mera booth, sabe majboot’ and “mera parivar, Bhajapa parivar’ were conceived to make beneficiaries of welfare schemes aware of government efforts.
“Development and people’s welfare have no alternative. It is the biggest ammunition against all caste and communal barriers,” feels Yogi Adityanath. Officers had his standing orders to ensure execution of welfare flagship schemes like Ujjawala, uninterrupted power supply, PM housing scheme, toilets with zero laxity on the ground.
On his own, Yogi’s focus from the core issues never wavered. In his own words, he redressed issues like the stray cattle menace when he heard a woman voter on a news channel raising the issue directly addressed to him on an evening after winding up the days’ campaign.
He summoned senior officials concerned immediately to his residence and directed them to organise a video conference with district officials next morning.
“We arranged gaushalas across the state housing around four lakh abandoned cattle. Otherwise, just imagine, how would we have fought elections with so many animals out,” said the CM.
Similarly, power supply, toilets and pucca house to poor proved a game changer. “An amount of Rs 4000 of guaranteed Rs 6000 under PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme reached farmers’ account during the polls. It created a pro-government pulse on the ground and helped blunt opposition’s negative projection of government,” he claimed.
It even helped BJP winning over a few gathbandhan votes as well. The reduced victory margin of Mulayam Singh Yadav (94,000) in Mainpuri and fall of Badaun, Kannauj and Firozabad substantiate the shift of votes.
By winning 62 of 80 seats and arresting loss to just nine seats as compared to the previous tally of 71in UP, Yogi Adityanath succeeded in exorcising the bogey of caste arithmetic in the state.