The Lok Sabha election results in Uttar Pradesh were not a surprise. The transfer of votes between the gathbandhan partners, as I had predicted in my earlier article, was always going to be difficult.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won 62 seats and its ally Apna Dal two seats, taking the NDA tally in the state to 64. Although the BJP lost nine seats – it won 71 last time – its vote share went up from 42.3 per cent in 2014 to nearly 49.5 per cent this time.
The Congress could win just one seat from UP while Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati gathbandhan, which also included Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), performed way below expectation and managed just 15 seats.
The 2019 Lok Sabha election was Modi-centric – either one was for Modi or against him. The local contestants were irrelevant because people voted for Narendra Modi.
But what made Modi click with UP voters?
One, Narendra Modi provided a strong, stable, secular and clean government with focus on inclusive politics and development. Two, Modi expanded the BJP’s traditional constituency of upper caste, middle class and urban traders to include Dalits, OBCs and Muslims. He put into practice his inclusive approach, reflected in the sabka saath, sabka vikas slogan.
Third, Modi broke the caste matrix and made huge inroads into the class matrix, which ensured the party a massive vote share of 50 per cent in at least 15 states, including UP.
Finally, Modi focused on welfare measures and social security, ensuring that the benefits reached the poorest and the marginalised.
Back to being rivals
UP witnessed a triangular contest in 2019 elections. And, the friendly fights between the Congress and the gathbandhan candidates benefitted the BJP. Had it been a duel between the SP-BSP gathbandhan and the Congress on one side and the BJP on the other, things could have been a bit tougher for the latter. But going by the huge victory margins of the BJP winners in UP, the final results would not have been any different even then.
The gathbandhan was formed to challenge the BJP and oust Modi. The basic assumption was that the SP-BSP votes will be transferred to each other. That did not happen on most seats, and only partially in few constituencies. This explains why gathbandhan candidates could win just 15 seats in UP.
What would be implication of the gathbandhan fiasco?
The SP-BSP coalition of Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati would probably not survive now. The next big goalpost for both the parties is the 2022 assembly election, where they could be back to being fierce rivals.
What it means for Yogi government?
How will the 2019 verdict impact Yogi Adityanath government in UP?
Modi’s second tenure is likely to be a little tougher because he now has a bigger mandate to take hard decisions in public interest.
However, repeated assembly elections in the coming years can put him in a bind. Surely, Modi wants to win the 2022 assembly election in UP, and that would put pressure on the Yogi government to perform better.
The 2019 election results have sent out one clear signal – a performing government need not fear caste-based identity politics. The Modi government has shown that inclusive politics and development can break caste barriers.
As a UP resident, I feel that the Yogi government’s initial enthusiasm on governance seems to be missing in the last few months. He has not demonstrated a zero tolerance on corruption contrary to Prime Minister Modi’s stand. If UP has to develop fast, then corruption, red-tapism and financial waste have to be dealt with sternly.
Priyanka proves ineffective
The 2019 elections will be long remembered for the defeat of Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, once considered the family’s pocket-borough.
The constituency, which was represented by the Gandhi family for the last two decades, chose BJP’s Smriti Irani this time.
The Congress’ strategy of bringing in Priyanka Gandhi clearly proved futile as the party’s vote share fell by a percentage point, from 7.5 per cent in 2014 to 6.3 per cent in 2019. Given Sonia Gandhi’s failing health, Priyanka could contest from Rae Bareli, the only seat that the Congress could win this time, in future.
As of now, UP is set for accelerated all-round development under the twin leadership of Modi and Yogi.
The author is Director, Centre for the Study of Society and Politics (CSSP), Kanpur