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Pawan Dixit & Sudhir Kumar | Hindustan Times | Lucknow/Varanasi | March 11, 2022:: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) banked on the Hindutva plank, focused on the construction of the Ram Temple, triggered memories of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and strategically brought into its fold the non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit voters in the seven-phase assembly elections to script history in Uttar Pradesh, as it became the first party to retain power in the state in over three decades.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotive remark “Modi Ka Namak” at a Hardoi rally and “chai” symbolism in Varanasi also helped the party connect with the people of the state.
In western Uttar Pradesh, a significant battleground in view of the concentration of farmers, who were widely seen as being upset with the ruling party over the now-repealed agricultural laws, the party managed to play the “Hindu card” to bring back the dominant Jat community into its fold. The influential community had backed the party in 2014, 2017, and 2019, but grew distant from it over the farm protests.
In Jatland, the BJP successfully combined the “Hindu card”, the construction of the Ram Mandir and fear of 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots during its last 10 days of campaigning before the start of the elections to thwart the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)’s efforts to breach the party’s Jat citadel.
Not only did RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary fail to get a majority of the Jat community to back him, but farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikat, too, found it difficult to rally behind him the powerful cultivators’ lobby of the western region
In the first three phases of polls starting with the Jatland, the BJP succeeded in warding off the simmering anger among farmers over sugarcane prices and the three contentious agricultural laws.
“From the first phase till the last phase, the BJP used all its issues effectively to win Uttar Pradesh. Starting with law and order, non-Yadav OBC, non-Jatav Dalit voters, mahila (women) and beneficiaries of its schemes voted for the BJP,” Kaushlendra Singh, a political analyst of eastern Uttar Pradesh based in Bahraich said.
In Rohilkhand region, often referred to as a Muslim belt due to the formidable presence of Muslims in the region, the BJP’s strategy of the Hindutva plank and improved law and order worked to its advantage.
The BJP succeeded in bringing the non-Jatav Dalit voters under its fold in Awadh region. For mahila (women) voters, the party turned out to be the first choice due to the improved law and order.
In Purvanchal region, a host of issues helped the party retain its support among the non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits. These included free ration, Ayushman Bharat health insurance schemes, houses given to the poor under the PM housing scheme, construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi and symbolism used by BJP’s star campaigner and top leader Prime Minister Modi.
Modi had mentioned most of these issues in his poll meetings. He had also targeted Parivarvadis (dynasts) in politics, saying they cannot do good to Uttar Pradesh. Almost at every meeting, he reminded people of the law and order situation during the SP regime (2012-2017). He also spoke about how the BJP ensured strict action against the mafia, criminals and goons after forming the government in the state in 2017.
Modi also used symbolism to seek votes. While the Prime Minister made no mention of “chaiwala” during his campaign, he drank tea at Pappu tea stall in Assi area and indulged in Banarasi Paan at a little known paan shop on March 4, the day he held a road show in Varanasi.
“PM Modi stopped at Pappu tea stall and sipped tea. He interacted with tea stall owner Pappu’s son Manoj and extended his wishes to him. His visit to the tea stall was a sort of symbolism that helped the BJP win the support of tea sellers,” Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra, political analyst and dean faculty of social sciences at Banaras Hindu University, said.
The population of tea-sellers is roughly around one lakh in the nine districts which voted in the last phase on March 7.
“Before Modi left, the picture of him sipping tea at a tea stall in Kashi was widely circulated on social media platforms. Tea stall owners felt honoured by his visit,” Mishra said.
Modi also began most of his rally speeches in the local dialect. He also bowed before local deities as a mark of reverence during public meetings across the state.
On March 4, the Prime Minister offered prayers at Kashi Vishwanath temple. Prior to that, he visited the temple on February 27 when he addressed a booth level workers’ convention in Varanasi, Mishra said.
On December 12, Modi inaugurated the grand Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, spread over 550,000 sq ft, in Varanasi. Underlining the construction of the corridor, the BJP kept the Hindutva card alive in this election, Mishra said.
“The result is before everyone. This strong majority is testimony that OBCs, excluding some percent of Yadav, and Scheduled Castes, excluding some percent of Jatavs, have supported the BJP. They are with the BJP,” Mishra said.
Sharat Pradhan | Deccan Herald | Lucknow | MAR 10 2022:: The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has finally re-written history in the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, where an incumbent political party has been voted back to power in succession after a gap of nearly four decades.
But who gets the credit for such a spectacular victory – is it the magic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the overwhelming aura of Hindutva or the systematically spread by the saffron-clad mahant-turned chief minister Yogi Adityanath?
Even though the party’s win on 260 plus of the state’s 403 Assembly seats today is relatively lower than the 2017 count of 312 (325 including its allies), it remains a commendable feat. After all, unlike 2017, when the key opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) stood like a badly divided house, this time it emerged as the main challenger to the mighty BJP.
SP chief and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was busy fighting his own family feud in 2017, rose to take on the “double engine” power of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. While there is no doubt that Akhilesh woke up rather late in the day – barely four months before the electoral battle – he got enthused by the overwhelming response he received.
Purvanchal in the East, failed to translate into votes. What further confused observers was the exuberance of the crowds at Akhilesh’s rallies even in the Modi bastion of Varanasi and Adityanath’s home-turf Gorakhpur.
Agitated youth, visible in large numbers at most of his rallies, seemed to endorse Akhilesh’s cries against increasing unemployment. Issues like price-rise, farmers’ year-long demonstration against controversial farm laws, or the stray cattle menace, which also found sufficient space in the public discourse, also seemed to have got lost somewhere when it came to pressing the button on the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Meanwhile, when Akhilesh managed to woo a couple of non-Yadav OBC leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, and Dharam Singh Saini, all of whom switched loyalties from the BJP to the SP, the BJP leadership began to look jittery. They represented separate OBC sections, and when they were originally imported into the BJP from the BSP, they had evoked much excitement. Therefore, their cross over to the SP seemed to make the BJP uncomfortable.
What gave Akhilesh more credence was the convergence of the top BJP leadership led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who at one point of time virtually took command of the campaign in Purvanchal by camping for three days in Varanasi. When Adityanath’s pictures suddenly stopped showing on Modi-dominated posters and BJP hoardings even in Gorakhpur, it gave the impression that BJP was losing ground.
As it stands today, it is pretty evident that none of the three leaders turned out to enhance Akhilesh’s stock. The most prominent of them, Swami Prasad Maurya, lost his own election. The OBC caste groups the three defectors were believed to be carrying in their pockets did not seem to shift their allegiance. Analysis by key pollsters makes it evident that the bulk of these very OBCs voted for the BJP. And what made it worse for the SP was the more significant tilt of women OBC voters in favour of the BJP.
Since the assessment of pollsters has turned out to be closer to reality, it can safely be assumed that women voters, in general, voted in large numbers for the ruling party. Contrary to popular belief that women would also get divided on caste lines, this did not happen, primarily because as housewives, they happened to be the direct beneficiaries of the prime minister’s free ration scheme, which was specially extended up to the current month of March.
What perhaps also contributed to the surge that BJP got in the election was Adityanath’s ‘bulldozer’ image, through which he sought to convey his “no-nonsense” hard taskmaster style of working. However, it cannot be understated that “bulldozer” remained a crucial part of his utterances all through the campaign. Not only other top BJP leaders, but Adityanath himself made it a point to declare how the “illegally acquired properties of criminals like Mukhtar Ansari and Atique Ahmad” were brought under the bulldozer. Sure enough, the idea behind highlighting these two names on most occasions was also to send the message far and wide that criminals belonging to the minority community were on his target. Similarly, repeated references were also made by him to “Jinnah”, “Abbajaan”, and later even ‘Hijab”,, besides of course, “kabristaan and shamshaan”, were also notwithout intent and purpose.
The UP chief minister’s echoing claim, spread through advertisements on TV channels and print media that he had established the rule of law in what he alleged had turned into a “lawless” state under the SP rule, also paid rich dividends. On the contrary, Akhilesh failed to effectively counter this systematic narrative, allowing the common perception of the SP to prevail. His effort to build the impression that he was trying to create a “new Samajwadi Party” through his “nai hawa, nai sapa” campaign remained quite feeble and unconvincing.
At the end of the day, Akhilesh’s propaganda machinery was not half as well-equipped or as efficient to match the ruling BJP’s means and resources that were put to use to bombard people with their narrative.
Nalin Meheta in TOI.
Yogi Adityanath’s return to power in Lucknow has reset the old rules of Indian politics. There are several firsts in the re-election of the Yogi, the saffron-clad Mahant of the Gorakhnath Peeth, as the chief minister of India’s most politically significant state. One, he is the first sitting chief minister of UP to be returned to power since independence.
In the days of Congress dominance, the party won successive state elections but always with a different chief minister. Second, the last time an incumbent party returned to power in UP was almost four decades ago. Third, the BJP actually increased its vote share from 2017, despite five years of incumbency. Its vote-share is the highest ever for any party in UP since 1957.
How did the BJP do it? Recreating itself as a ‘party of the poor’ was crucial to this victory. When Yogi Adityanath took charge as chief minister in 2017, he made effective execution of all Union schemes his top priority. Modi called this ‘double-engine ki sarkar ‘ in his campaign publicity. But what this did mean in practise?
The chief minister, a saffron-clad monk, was initially not taken seriously by the UP bureaucracy. At the very outset, he modelled his management style on Modi. ‘When he started as CM, Modi suggested to him that you take a presentation from each department on work they have done and what they will do in next 100 days,’ says a senior official in the CMO.
Yogi put in place a structured three-monthly review system of government programmes. As the officer explained: “When he [Yogi Adityanath] started, he would take meetings till 1 a.m. in the morning. That gave him an idea of what is happening initially. Officers took him lightly. They thought he is a Yogi, they thought they knew him and that he would forget. But his memory is very strong, he remembers figures-for example, he will listen to a presentation and say this is Rs 600 crore, it is not Rs 630 crore. After that, he started doing reviews every three months. He would call them for a review and some officers would repeat old statistics. He would say, you showed the same figures last time, the data is old. Then they would say, ‘Oh, Sir, some work was left’. He told them to come again next month. The thing is that you cannot repeat a lie again and again. You will have to deliver, come what may. IAS/IPS officers are smart anyway. They understood that they won’t be able to manage without doing work and he will keep following up. He doesn’t give any option.
Speaking further on Yogi’s working style, he added, “Yogi wakes up at 3 or 4 a.m. He does pooja etc till 5 a.m. and his other stuff by 8 a.m. Then he is at his office desk by 8.30 a.m. By 9 a.m., we reach. From 10, he starts taking meetings. When he is out of town, it’s like a Sunday. If a person works like this, if you do 30 per cent of that, you will see results.
Even if you are the most corrupt of corrupt persons, you will still have to show results.’ This focus on delivery of government schemes exemplified the social-welfare focus of the BJP. For example, within 100 days of coming to power, Yogi Adityanath’s government issued the first public report card of its work on welfare schemes. Unlike detailed government reports, this was aimed at the general public, filled with colourful pages and photographs, enumerating results across a number of schemes, from those addressing sugarcane farmers to village electricity to water for fields. The UP government has since continued to publish similar periodic report cards.
Between 2013 and 2019, the BJP swept four elections in UP: two Lok Sabha polls (2014 and 2019), one assembly election (2017), nine by-elections and municipal elections in 2018. Senior state BJP leaders attributed this upswing in political fortunes in great measure to the political mobilisation around welfare.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times | Deccan Herald | Times of India | ANI // Views expressed are personal.