Assembly Elections 2017: Why this is the best chance for BJP to win Uttar Pradesh?
Amidst speculations and uncertainties as to who will win Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Assembly elections, only Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have the best chance to win on its own.
While the popularity of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has dimmed after demonetisation, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is still battling a family war for power and Rahul Gandhi’s efforts have not won many fans for the Congress as recent opinion polls have shown.
These factors certainly go in the favour of BJP but the saffron party has more aces up its sleeve. Over the years, SP and BSP have won because of solid support of certain groups of voters. For SP, Yadav-Muslim votes are believed to be the winning factors, for BSP it is Dalit votes. After demonetisation, the BJP led by president Amit Shah is steadily making inroads into traditional vote banks of both SP and BSP. BJP’s popularity chart in the state has been rising since 2014 when it won 71 out of the 80 parliamentary seats.
An India Today-Axis opinion poll for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections predicted a landslide win for BJP with 210 out of 403 seats.
At the core of BJP’s strategy is promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal appeal as the only leader who is genuinely concerned for the welfare of the poor. The demonetisation decision has apparently added more to the appeal by establishing Modi’s image as “anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist”. This is interesting as the opposition parties have been trying hard to prove that Modi promotes crony capitalism and runs a “suit-boot ki sarkar”.
BJP President Amit Shah has been telling BJP workers that the party’s “chemistry” with residents of the state has changed since note ban. Not only this, note ban has helped PM Modi take away the so- called socialist credentials of the SP as well as the pro-Dalit claim of BSP.
LModi’s new image gives the message that the PM has now become “samajwadi”‘ (socialist). Modi recently launched government’s own digital payments gateway — BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) App. Strategically named after Dalit icon Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the App would certainly appeal to Dalit voters of the state. The BJP is running its campaign with the agenda of “sabka sath, sabka vikas.”
UP elections have become a do-or-die battle for BJP, especially for PM Modi. A majority win would help BJP to continue effecting the paradigm shift from the Congress’ entitlement-based approach to governance. A loss would be seen as a vote against demonetisation and stall BJP’s “Congress-mukt Bharat” dream for the time being.
BJP has never been able to form a government on its own in the state. In 1999, it formed a coalition government under Ram Prakash Gupta. However, Gupta was replaced by Rajnath Singh after 351 days. Singh could rule only for a year and 131 days till March 2002. Fourteen years later, the situation is poised to change.