Chances of BJP Majority Depend on Modi Magic
On the face of it, the statement cannot be faulted for it replays Modi’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ formulation. He claimed that every community in UP feels discriminated against and mentioned that Dalits complained against OBCs for grabbing the goodies, the latter against Yadavs and so on. Modi’s decision not to include Muslims among “har koi” with grievances is consistent with the BJP argument that Muslims are an ‘appeased’ lot. Its use at this stage is aimed to polarise the electorate in BJP’s favour.
The moot point is after having declared that the BJP would contest these polls on the ‘positive’ plank of ‘achievements’, why has emphasis been given to an issue that divides people on communal lines? Does the return of identity-based elections illustrate that after an ‘abnormal’ poll in 2014, India is returning to ‘normal’ elections? Is this indicative that after a false sense of hope, people are back to low expectations from parties?
S i nc e the l a s t p a r l i a mentary elections, elections were held in ten states and the UT of Puducherr y. Of t hese, Maharashtra, Haryana, J harkhand and J& K went to polls when the country was still under the effects of a ‘Modi wave’. Elections in 2015 and 2016 were not inf luenced by this and the BJP failed to match the performance of 2014 in Bihar and West Bengal indicating that terming the parliamentary poll as a turning point was premature. Given the sense that Modi’s personal popularity remains heads and shoulders over rivals, UP presents a big opportunity for him to re-establish his vote-catching ability in states. Barring a rout in UP and defeat elsewhere, Modi’s dominance is likely to continue. In contrast, defeat will dent future prospects, especially in 2019, of Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and even Rahul Gandhi.
Regardless of the ‘level’ t he BJP eventually settles in UP, its performance will be significantly lower than 2014. A vote share of 42% is unrealistic in ‘normal’ situations. Chances of the BJP securing majority depend purely on Modi’s magic and division of anti-BJP votes between the SP-Cong and BSP, and not just of the Muslim vote. Unlike Maharashtra, Haryana, Assam and Jharkhand, the BJP in UP does not face discredited adversaries. Even in 2014, SP and BSP polled fair share of votes. Regional pride is often vital in assembly polls and extent to which absence of local charismatic leaders may damage BJP’s prospects is unknown. The BJP’s vanvas in UP may or may not end, but chances of a poor performance is highly unlikely. Even in defeat, Modi is likely to have the pleasure of seeing the party’s emergence as the political fulcrum in the state.