BJP’s Political Ego punctured in UP & Bihar!

Paradoxically, BJP’s defeat also marks its failure to analyse the key factors responsible for its victory from UP last year in the assembly elections as well as in 2014 parliamentary elections.

The political shock received by BJP does not spell only loss of three seats in the present Lok Sabha. The results of by-elections held in constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulphur in Uttar Pradesh (UP) as well as Araria in Bihar have strongly punctured the over-confidence displayed by BJP leaders. The party stalwarts, particularly UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, need to seriously consider the degree to which saffron-wave promoted by them and the hype raised over the Ayodhya-issue has helped their party politically in this and the neighbouring state. With his strong base in Gorakhpur, BJP’s loss raises questions about the political credentials of Yogi in UP. BJP’s loss in Bihar suggests its alliance with Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has failed to diminish the political hold of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led by Laloo Prasad. RJD has won from the Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jahanabad Assembly seat. BJP has won only the Bhabua seat in Bihar Assembly.

Paradoxically, BJP’s defeat also marks its failure to analyse the key factors responsible for its victory from UP last year in the assembly elections as well as in 2014 parliamentary elections. BJP did not win solely on its own strength. If that was the case, in both elections, the party would have won more than 50% votes. BJP’s victory was strongly decided by major mistakes committed by its rival parties. These included alignment of Samajwadi Party (SP) with Congress, internal conflict within SP and so forth. In a number of seats, the votes won by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and SP put together exceeded those won by BJP by more than 20,000. The mistake committed by SP and BSP last year was not repeated during the by-elections held in Gorakhpur and Phulpur this time round. Now they chose to align and contest the polls. BJP’s defeat from seats earlier held by Yogi and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya only signals their limited political significance here.

BJP’s defeat from Yogi’s own “bastion” has apparently not just spelled a major political shock for him but also poses major questions for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other key party leaders. Did Modi act wisely by selecting Yogi as the state chief minister? He had selected a Hindutva mascot for the job with probably his eyes set on Ayodhya-issue, assuming that this would spell political gains for him in forthcoming parliamentary polls. BJP leaders were apparently confident that the communal wave would help their party secure the so-called Hindu vote in the Hindi belt, which includes UP and Bihar. If BJP’s political calculations rested on this hope, they have crashed. Yogi’s saffron agenda has not been welcomed by voters. Claims made by him about development in UP have been viewed as hollow by voters in UP. The communal agenda targeting minorities has apparently not been welcomed by a majority of voters.

Clearly, the saffron brigade’s Hindutva-drive has only tarnished Yogi’s political image in UP. It also sounds a damaging signals for Modi’s image. Undeniably, the BJP may be able to use various means to silence and/or prevent spread of negative news about its communal activities in UP and India. Their success is, however, not guaranteed. Besides, thanks to Internet and other means, negative news does not take too long to spread across the world. Modi is least likely to be pleased by his own image being tarnished abroad by such negative news. Also, electoral results indicate that voters are least likely to be fooled by spread of false news. They are well aware of the negative impact of communal politicking and economic blunders indulged in by saffron brigade and its associates.

The prime minister is keen to make India a major economic power. In this direction, he is also open to investments from other countries. But if disturbances rock major states like UP, most countries are likely to reconsider the option of furthering economic ties with India. Would Modi welcome this? Probably not. Besides, if crises - economic and social - engulfs UP, the situation is not likely to be welcomed by the population as a whole. It must be accepted that each and every Hindu in UP is not communal and/or extremist. If he were, the BJP would have received 80 percent votes in theUP assembly elections. This only implies that secularism is still alive in India. Perhaps, it would be wise of BJP to keep in mind that each communal incident is likely to give its rival parties an issue to make noise about and also gain media coverage with support of secular Indians.

The BJP needs to reflect and remember that Gujarat carnage (2002) proved politically too expensive for the BJP. The party failed to return to power in thesubsequent parliamentary polls. Had Modi not donned a secular and development mask during his campaign for 2014 parliamentary polls, victory may have eluded BJP. The present results have certainly rung alarm bells for Modi’s political aspirations. Modi needs to be extremely cautious about damages that can be caused to his political future by communal politicking indulged in by his party members, including Yogi!

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