Modi’s appeal, Shah’s strategy give BJP stunning victory in UP
By Prashant Sood and Brajendra Nath Singh
New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electoral appeal, central government’s pro-poor schemes and Amit Shah’s social engineering helped BJP pull off a stunning victory in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most crucial electoral state, say party leaders.
BJP got three-fourth majorities on its own both in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, leaving its opponents perplexed.
The BJP worked to a plan in Uttar Pradesh considering the significance of the outcome for the party’s prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, given the state’s 80 seats, said BJP sources, adding the party carefully planned its electoral moves, executed them meticulously and made changes and adjustments as the situation warranted.
The party’s manifesto had specific promises for various sections, including farmers who comprise a large section of voters. It focused on non-Yadav Other Backward Classes and non-Jatav Dalits to expand its support base that also included the forward castes and the aspirational class.
Learning its lessons from Bihar election in 2015 , the party made kept modifying its electoral rhetoric while seeking to keep the ruling Samajwadi Party on the defensive over the law and order situation in the state and its governance record.
It also raised issues that had wide resonance with people including perceived favouritism and closeness of SP leadership to a particular community.
BJP leaders said that central government’s pro-poor schemes, including Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana which entails poor women getting a gas cylinder, created a lot of goodwill for the party in villages and particularly among women.
“Around 55 lakh people in the state benefited from Ujjwala Yojana in Uttar Pradesh,” a BJP leader said.
Party leaders said that care was taken on honest and efficient implementation of the central schemes so that there were no complaints.
They also said that party chief Amit Shah focused on micro-level booth management for the party’s success as he had done in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when BJP had won 71 of 80 seats.
They said that the party was keen to make the campaign “Modi centric” and both Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi helped matters by focusing on the Prime Minister in their speeches.
BJP sources said that Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to give 105 seats to the Congress and agreeing to contest 298 seats was a “strategic blunder”.
“The SP had won 224 seats in 2012 election and agreed to fight only about 70 more seats. The decision naturally made many SP candidates unhappy,” he said.
Modi invested heavily in the campaign, addressing several rallies and giving the campaign a final push by campaigning for three days in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi. Modi’s rallies drew enthusiastic response form the people.
With demonetisation having caused some problems to people, Modi addressed the issue in several of his rallies and highlighted it as an essential step to fight corruption and the corrupt.
Analysts said that no Prime Minister before Modi had campaigned so intensively in a state election and the victory had further consolidated his position as also that of Shah.
“Prime Ministers normally do not campaign extensively in state election. They leave it to others in the party,” political commentator S. Nihal Singh told IANS.
He said Modi was also keen on improving BJP’s tally in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks majority and had invested heavily in the campaign.
Subrata Mukherjee, a political anaylst who has taught in Delhi University, said that UP election had proved that “magic of Modi continues as there is no comparable leader in the opposition.”
The BJP also sewed strategic alliances to galvanise non-Yadav OBC vote and gave the community sizeable number of tickets.
As part of the party’s strategy to woo the numerically significant community, the party had appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya as state party chief and inducted Swami Prasad Maurya into the party from Bahujan Samaj Party.