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Political earthquake hits BJP. Epicentre is Uttar Pradesh

Political earthquake hits BJP. Epicentre is Uttar Pradesh

A notable factor was the lack of RSS volunteers and the demoralisation of the BJP's grassroots workers due to the ‘bureaucratisation of saffron outfit’ under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

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Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 15:13 IST
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 15:13 IST
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The adage in Indian politics that ‘the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow’ highlights Uttar Pradesh’s significant political clout, sending 80 legislators to Parliament.

The Lok Sabha elections have resulted in a significant political shift, with the BJP-led NDA alliance likely to form the government, despite falling short of a clear majority. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP alliance is projected to secure about 35 seats, signalling a return to pre-2014 social engineering and identity politics.

The ‘Do Ladko ki Jodi’ managed to counter the BJP’s strategies of Hindutva, nationalism, welfarism, and social coalition. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi's emergence as critical factors in the Opposition’s success, particularly among the OBCs and the Dalits, demands serious attention. The ‘Ab ki baar 400 par’ slogan acted as double-edged sword for the BJP: it made saffron outfit workers and core voters complacent, and it gave the I.N.D.I.A. bloc an opportunity to paint Prime Minister Narendra Modi as anti-Constitution and anti-reservation by infusing fear among backwards and the Dalits.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati's sudden removal of Akash Anand and change of candidates cemented the allegation of the BSP being the B-team of the BJP, and the Dalits chose to side with I.N.D.I.A. in significant numbers.

A notable factor was the lack of RSS volunteers and the demoralisation of the BJP's grassroots workers due to the ‘bureaucratisation of saffron outfit’ under Modi-Amit Shah. The BJP failed to gauge the anger among the youth on the ground. Discontent among youth, cutting across caste lines, over jobs because of the Modi government's failure to conduct exams, and the paper leaks fuelled a shift away from the BJP. This dissatisfaction was further exacerbated by the controversial Agniveer scheme, which backfired, highlighting the critical importance of addressing jobs in political strategies.

Another crucial factor was the Congress’ Nyay scheme, which particularly resonated with women voters. This targeted welfare scheme, promising financial assistance to women, managed to galvanise a significant portion of the electorate, providing the Congress with a much-needed boost, demonstrating that well-crafted welfare policies can sway voter sentiment and behaviour.

Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav ran a very quiet campaign in Uttar Pradesh and have not given any chance to Modi to put them on the back foot. Yadav also played a crucial role in reshaping the political dynamics through his PDA formula by diversifying SP’s candidate base to include not just Yadavs and Muslims, but also Kurmis and other backward classes that managed to broaden its appeal. This inclusive strategy weakened the BJP's traditional voter base, highlighting the efficacy of inclusive politics in a state characterised by its complex caste dynamics. Yadav's tactical distribution of tickets was instrumental in the SP's improved performance. Anti-incumbency against sitting MPs and poor candidate selection by the highly centralised BJP, due to the overreliance on Modi's charisma, backfired for the saffron outfit.

The rumour about UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath likely being removed from his post after the polls, and the protest by Kshatriyas led to the BJP’s core vote back drifting towards the Opposition camp.

The Lok Sabha election results from Uttar Pradesh reflect a transformative shift in the state's political landscape. The BJP’s reduced majority and the rise of the SP-Congress alliance signify a new era of competitive politics coupled with the revival of caste politics, jobs, and inflation as poll issues if fought cleverly.

The UP results serve as a reminder of the dynamic nature of democracy, where voter preferences and political fortunes can shift dramatically in response to evolving social and economic realities such as jobs and inflation, and narratives such as ‘Samvidhan Badal Denge’ and ‘Aarakshan Khatam Kar Denge’.

(Mahendra Kumar Singh is a political commentator and teaches Political Science at DDU Gorakhpur University, Uttar Pradesh. X: @MKSinghGkp.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

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