Modi magic ends BJP's 14-year 'vanvaas'

Modi magic ends BJP's 14-year 'vanvaas'

Modi magic ends BJP's 14-year 'vanvaas'

 In almost a replica of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP scripted a historic victory in Uttar Pradesh, decimating the much-touted Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance and BSP supremo Mayawati.

This also brings to an end its 14-year hiatus in India’s biggest and politically most crucial state.

Riding high on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the saffron party, in alliance with some smaller outfits, bagged 324 of the 403 seats. Never before in the electoral history of the state had any party managed to cross the 300 mark in the Assembly polls.

While BJP’s tally stood at 310, its alliance partners Apna Dal and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party won nine and five seats. The BJP had earlier performed its best in 1991, when it had bagged 221 seats in the undivided UP, riding high on the Ram Temple wave.

The massive victory not only stunned rivals, but also came as a surprise to pollsters, who had either predicted a hung House or a simple majority for the BJP. Barring one exit poll, all others had predicted that the BJP’s tally would either be below or slightly above the halfway mark of 202.

Modi, who almost single-handedly spearheaded his party’s election campaign and addressed over two dozen meetings,  besides holding roadshows in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi, managed to project himself as a ‘hard working’ and ‘honest’ man who cared for the poor. He stayed put in Varanasi for three days and monitored the campaign from there.

“It is a victory of Modiji... the people of the state, especially the poor and downtrodden, consider him to be one of them... there is no one who can come anywhere near him in stature today,” said state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya.

The results reveal that there was no anti-incumbency against Modi and he was able to break the caste barriers just as he had done in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when his party had bagged 71 of the 80 seats in the state. In 2014, the BJP had led in 328 Assembly segments.

The BJP scored big in almost all regions in the state, making a dent into the vote banks of its rival parties and handed them their biggest defeat, reducing the SP to below 50 and Congress to a single digit. The BSP, too, was reduced to only 19 seats in the Assembly.

The saffron party captured more than 100 of the 126 seats in the western region, while it completely swept the Bundelkhand region. The party also bagged over 110 of the 141 seats in the Avadh region and 70 in the Poorvanchal region.
The BJP had won only 48 seats in the 2012 Assembly polls.

Contrary to expectations, the saffron party also edged out its rivals in the Muslim-dominated districts in the state, surprising even veteran pollsters. The BJP made handsome gains in the regions dominated by Dalits and Yadavs as well.

“The people of UP have reposed their faith in Modi... they believe what he says, while the rivals failed to win the trust of the people,” said Prof Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, a media analyst and faculty at the Lucknow University.

“Pro-poor measures like the Ujjwala scheme and the promise to waive off loans of farmers and moreover, Modi’s stress on development made people support him,” Tripathi said. Saturday’s win will not only make things easier for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha and the presidential elections, but also go a long way in helping the party in the next battle in 2019, with total control over a state that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha.