Soroor Ahmed analyses the blunders of Bharatiya Janata Party and its poll prospects in the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and other States early next year.
Though Uttar Pradesh is going to poll nine months after the devastating defeat suffered by the Bharatiya Janata Party at the hands of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal yet the saffron camp has learnt no lesson from blunders committed in that eastern state earlier in 2021.
Instead of concentrating at the grassroots level and be apologetic for the Centre’s and Yogi Adityanath government’s complete failure during the height of the second wave of coronavirus, which took lives of lakhs of people across India, the BJP top brass is expecting that it would get enough vote to return to power by laying the foundation stone of an international airport in Noida on the western tip of UP and inaugurating another one at Kushinagar at the eastern most point within a month.
The proposed Noida airport is just 70 kms from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and several experts and environmentalists are questioning the very need for such a huge project in such a close distance.
What the party’s bigwigs are not realising is that the election eve inauguration of mega-projects in West Bengal failed to yield the desired result. In fact, the whole move backfired and the party had to suffer a humiliating defeat. Though elections are going to take place in five states earlier next year, by concentrating its attention only in UP, the ruling BJP is exposing its weakness in the state.
Barring Punjab, where it is not a powerful player, the BJP has much at stake in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, which are also going for election. Yet ever since July 15, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched projects worth hundreds of crores in his parliamentary constituency, Banaras or Varanasi, the entire party machinery is focussing its energy only in UP. Recently the PM, in a high-profile function marked with air-show, also inaugurated Poorvanchal Expressway, which is yet to be completed.
It is true that Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state of India and election result has much more significance on the national politics , yet giving extraordinary attention to it betrays the nervousness of the leadership of the party.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak (November 19) to announce the repeal of the three farm laws and apologised to farmers for the failure of his government to convince them about good features in the laws yet the truth is that the whole exercise was undertaken keeping voters of Uttar Pradesh, especially the Hindu Jats, in mind. The Sikh voters of Punjab, whatever be the central government’s overture, are not going to be impressed.
Yes, many farmers – Sikhs and others – now want to end their sit-ins on the border of Delhi. But this does not mean that it would be an end to the worries of the BJP. They want to return to poll-bound Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and actively take part to ensure the defeat of the saffron party.
If the BJP is thinking that it has won over the farmers of these three states then it is living in a fool’s paradise as they are not going to vote for the saffron party.
A message has gone that this offer has come too late from the government and only when the party in power at the Centre had realised that it is going to perform badly in the coming Assembly elections. Otherwise, it would never have conceded any ground.
The farmers are well aware that their victory is hard-earned and any tactical mistake at this point of time may cost them heavily. If the BJP wins the Assembly elections, it may once again pass the same laws. Not only that if the farmers take to streets once again, the government would be in a better position to crush them. So the farmers are not going to be bluffed by the BJP, whose leaders have throughout the one-year period called them terrorists, Khalistanis, traitors, etc.
The repeal of the three farm laws had not only weakened the position of the BJP, as its workers and supporters are feeling badly let down and confused as they have always been strongly standing behind the party since their legislation in September 2020.
True, many of these hardcore voters may not cross over to other parties yet they may prefer to stay at home and not work or exercise their franchise for the BJP. This may prove dear to the saffron brigade as the electoral battle is not very easy this time.
Since the BJP has exposed its weakness, now its allies within the National Democratic Alliance, are seeking repeal of several other laws, especially the Citizenship Amendment Act. Thus the November 19 gesture of the Prime Minister has opened a Pandora’s Box for the ruling party at the Centre.
Another problem with the BJP is the personality clash between Modi and Yogi. Since 2014 the BJP has been contesting all the Assembly elections in Presidential mode with Modi leading the campaign with chief ministers having no role to play. In 2017 election in UP the party had, as in many other states, not even announced its CM face.
In contrast, this time all out efforts by the central leadership to cut the size of Yogi had failed as many RSS
functionaries stood behind Yogi as they consider him as the future prospect of the Sangh Parivar.
Though Modi does not like the powerful presence of Yogi yet at the same time he knows the importance of Uttar Pradesh and cannot afford to lose it.
The biggest problem for the BJP in UP is that the incumbency factor is greatly loaded against it. That is why the party has failed to generate as much passion in the first four months and a half of its campaign in UP (since July 15) as in West Bengal during the same period. It is another thing that in West Bengal they lost in spite of massive campaign and after causing so much polarisation.