Focus on development lured voters

Focus on development lured voters

BJP’s 56-seat accrual in the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttarakhand has fully confirmed that there was a distinct and certain Modi wave which allowed the BJP to register such an impressive win.

This is the first time in the history of Uttarakhand since its inception as a state that a party has achieved such a massive mandate. The BJP could never capture more than 34 seats in the past elections.

A look into the poll history of Uttarakhand confirms a trend of political change after every five years and the formation of BJP and Congress-led governments alternatively with the help of BSP, UKD and independents.

The exception is 2002, when the Congress won 36 seats and formed the government on its own. In 2007, the BJP formed the government, but since the mandate was not absolute (it won 34 seats), it had to form the government with the help of BSP and UKD.

In 2012, the BJP had secured 31 seats and the Congress 32. However, due to the pledge of anti-BJP parties to keep the party out of power, it could not form the government.

The fourth Assembly election has proved to be an exemplar for the BJP among the other elections.

This is because neither were the state leaders of the BJP assured of such a massive win nor did Congress leader and Chief Minister Harish Rawat expect such a humiliating rout both in Haridwar rural and Kicha seats.

Congress’ performance under the leadership of Harish Rawat has been so dismal that for the first time it has been limited to less than 15 seats, despite Rawat’s projection of himself as a martyr and a lonely leader throughout the election campaign. Non- performance of the Congress government in all sectors and defection of leaders to the BJP proved very costly for the Congress.

To make up for the lack of consensual leadership and to neturalise the internal discontent and the claims of half a dozen powerful leaders for chief ministership, the BJP had to contest in the name of Modi magic, which worked completely in its favour.

The election rallies which Modi held in Garhwal and Kumaun polarised the voters in BJP’s favour in both the hill and plain areas.

This can be confirmed from the fact that most of the rebel leaders of the Congress joined the BJP en masse in March 2016 and a few others joined the party later. Though some of them have proved to be controversial, leaders such as Harak Singh Rawat, Subodh Uniyal, Pradeep Batra, Kunwar Pranab Singh Champion, Rekha Arya, and Yashpal Arya managed to get elected in the 2017 polls.

Satpal Maharaj, who joined the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has won in the Chaubattakhal constituency. Furthermore, BJP stalwarts’ sons and daughters, such as Saurabh Bahuguna, Sanjeev Arya and Ritu Khanduri Bhushan have also won their seats under the impact of the Modi wave.

The impact of the Modi wave is even more enlightening in the wake of election results in Uttarakhand. Despite the BJP’s massive win in the state, BJP state president Ajay Bhatt could not retain his Ranikhet seat.

The results also indicate that the voters have voted for Modism and nationalism. Modi’s focus on the double engine of growth, good governance, transparency and development appealed to the voters of a state long deprived of development.

Such catchy ideas facilitated an impressive win for the BJP in both hill and plain areas and demolished the Congress. The vote pattern also indicates that the people of Uttarakhand have high expectations from Modi. Despite facing difficulties due to demonetisation, they have placed ample trust in Modi’s developmental and corruption-free agenda.

His unifying motto of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas’ also lured voters toward the BJP. Clearly, people have also given a mandate to the BJP for restoring the long-missing political stability in the state. The BJP now needs to fulfill not just the people’s dreams and respect the massive mandate, but also keep the party unified and stable during the appointment of the chief minister. Otherwise, the next Lok Sabha elections that are just two years away will turn the tide once again in the opposition’s favour.

(The writer is professor of political science, H N B Garhwal University, Uttarakhand)

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