Modi's pro-poor narrative did the trick, feels BJP

Modi's pro-poor narrative did the trick, feels BJP

The BJP said on Saturday that its landslide mandate in Uttar Pradesh demonstrated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-poor political narrative has clicked with the voters.

The party had worked on the consolidation of non-Yadav and non-Jatav most backward castes (MBCs) to club pro-poor politics with Modi government's development agenda to formulate a comprehensive electoral strategy in UP.

At a post-results press conference, however, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah interpreted the sweeping mandate to mean that the caste lines got blurred in the election in favour of “politics of performance”.

He said the poor have realised that Modi is empowering them.
More than a year before the polls, the BJP won over leaders of the smaller backward communities and tied up with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) – a party of backward caste Rajbhars who are influential in eastern UP. This sent out a strong signal to the MBCs which did not have any major ties with either of the two regional parties, Samajwadi Party or Bahujan Samaj Party.

Just as Jatavs are loyal to the BSP chief Mayawati, who is from their caste, Yadavs, by and large, remained with the SP in these polls. The BSP faced its second successive electoral drubbing in Uttar Pradesh this time.

During the campaign, Modi and Shah attacked the SP for the 'Yadav hegemony' in UP which, they said, was amplified when that caste got preference while filling government vacancies, and in postings.

Central government schemes like Ujjwala Yojna (LPG connections for the poor)  and Jan Dhan accounts also contributed to the Modi government pitch that it is empowering the have-nots, as did the appropriation of the Dalit icon B R  Ambedkar. Modi's also paid a visit to Ambedkar’s ancestral town of Mhow.

BSP chief Mayawati, who did not make any effort to win back lost ground, was shocked at the verdict as the trends during the day indicated that she would get no more than 19 seats – which is 61 less than her 2012 tally and her worst-ever performance after the 2014 Lok Sabha election in which her party failed to get a single seat.

She relied on reactionary politics such as getting mileage out of Dalit-related incidents to get other backward castes and the minorities back into the BSP-fold. And to overcome that deficit she harped much on Muslims.  

“The results in UP and Uttarakhand are surprising and not palatable to anyone. It seems EVMs (electronic voting machines) did not accept votes polled for any party other than the BJP,” the BSP supremo said.

“Muslims constitute 20% votes of the state and the BJP did not give a single ticket to Muslims... but in Muslim-dominated seats also the results went in the BJP's favour and this is unpalatable to the party,” she said at press conference in Lucknow.

Towards the end of the campaigning in UP, Mayawati had tried to check the movement of the MBCs towards the BJP but that was too late. At a rally in Varanasi on March 4, she charged that Modi was upper caste and had included his own Ghanchi caste in the Other Backward Caste (OBC) list in Gujarat after becoming chief minister.

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