Prof.M K Bhat
It is well said that the road to Delhi goes via Uttar Pradesh,it has 80 parliamentary seats and on feb.10 this is going to present the road map for the forth coming elections in 2024. UP stands as the largest populist state of the country and the largest subdivision in the world with a population of nearly 20 crores as per 2011 census. If it were a separate country, it would have been the world’s fifth biggest populous country. It bears nearly 15 percent of our total Lok Sabha strength.Every political party at present in the fray is making its tall claims to power but the reality will be clear on by10th March when results will be declared.It may however be said that the state election of nearly 24 crores at present will be a referendum on many issues.
It will make sure whether Yogi Adityanath is going to succeed Modi or not. If he breaks the anti-incumbency record of the state, his clout within BJP will grow manifold and his supporters will project him as successor to Modi in the race for prime ministership and if he fails he may get tough competition in his forward ambitions.If Samajwadi party fails it will be difficult for Akhilesh Yadav to keep the flock together and the party will disintegrate into pieces due the pressure from within the family, party and alliances, if he wins the mumbo jumbo alliance can go for some time. For BSP and Congress it will be do or die if they fail, their existence in UP will vanish and for AIMIM it will lay the foundation stone of Pan India Muslim partydream and failure may limit the party to Hyderabad only. The low electioneering by BSP has made it to appear as a tussle between BJP and Samajwadi party. Congress has a little say in the state, it has lost appeal in its traditional vote bank of Muslims and Brahmins. The present claimants of Muslim votes are Samajwadi party, Bahujan Samaj Party and All India Majlis -e- Ittihad al Muslimin. If the Muslim vote bank breaks down, which seems to be very difficult at present due to anti Modi attitude of opposition, it will make election easy for Bhartiya Janta Party.
The new dimension to this election was added by the resignation of OBC leaders like Swami prasad Mauriya and others from BJP and they joined SP.It may be worthwhile to mention here that the relations between Mauriya and BJP were not smooth from nearly last one year.This was consciously dealt by BJP leadership through the expansion of its cabinet filling OBC ministers with maximum preference to UP. The expansion of Quota for OBC NEET was also dealt to please the community in its favour.It further tried to control the damage by allotting maximum seats to the OBC community as per its first list of candidates for the election 2022.Further people very well understand the stature of Swami Prasad Mauriya who stood with BJP for 5 years and now talks of ill treatment towards OBC community. People nowadays are much aware – thanks to social media. They understand the clash of personal interests of Mauriya with BJP and will not allow community blackmailing,so the influence of these migratory leaders will be minimum this time. Their silence till elections will go against them in their own community.
Caste and religion have a prominent place in every UP election.This time election polarisation started with the revival of Jinnah ghost by Samajwadi party and Hindu V/s Hindutva bogey by Congress it got reaction from BJP in the form of accidental Hindu,20 verses 80,and this slugfest to polarise elections from all the sides is on… Akhilesh Yadav is eyeing on Muslim + Yadav votes further he expects miracle in western UP from Jat vote Bank.The Samajwadi formula is M+Y +1caste from Hindus.He wants disintegration of Hindu votes.There are about 42 to 45 % OBC voters in UP of which Yadavs are 9%,SP has a strong hold in Yadav vote bank and also tries for Brahmins who comprise nearly 10 percent of the population and are 20 % in eastern UP where BJP has a strong base.They have perceptible influence on other communities. Akhilesh wants consolidation of 20% Muslim votes and tries to keep congress, Bahujan Samaj Party,AIMIM away from this vote bank. Whether Muslims will vote amass or not will have its impact on the election outcome
BJP on the otherhand wants unification of 80 % of the population. The term 80 versus 20 % is a clear attempt for Hindu vote consolidation.It is worthwhile to mention here that castes have less appeal when compared with religion. Secondly howsoever Hindu Akhilesh Yadav or Rahul Gandhi may try to be but they cannot defeat BJP on this turf.
Those who believe cracks have appeared in the Hindu votes due to the resignation of OBC leaders must realise that Non Yadavs comprise 35% of the population including Kurmis 5%,Nishads 4%, Lodhs 4%, Rajbars, Kashyaps, Sainis, Sahus and Shakiyas etc.There are subcastes within a caste and many times these sub groups have their own agenda. Many of these are with BJP; Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and State BJP President Swatantra Dev Singh are Kurmi non -Yadav OBC. The focus is on the consolidation of non-Yadav OBC, they can act as a bone for BJP. BJP is trying to reach the beneficiaries of Government schemes+ Hindu votes. It has also tried to dent JAT vote bank by giving tickets to JAT candidates in western UP besides many JAT voters are not comfortable with SP.
BSP has confined its campaign to 20.8% Dalit votes besides organising Prabodh Samaj conferences and hopes that its social engineering will do miracles. Priyanka Gandhi is trying women and social groups like Maha Dalits, pichada etc
Akhilesh Yadav carries a baggage,of dealing harshly with Karsevaks, Saifai fest, Muslim appeasement, manipulations for Yadavs in Government jobs and Bad administration to his credit,Congress has weak leadership, corruption and Muslim appeasement,Mayawati has its Dalit vote bank but corruption too holds her back. SP and BSP bear the stigma of encouraging rogue elements. Contrary to this Yogi bears good control on administration by liquidating the rogue elements in the society,the network of roads spread all over the state accompanied by various government schemes both Central and State to his credit. He also boasts of Ram Mandir construction,Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor etc. The economy of UP too has grown in last five years despite covid epidemic. He has anti-incumbency, alleged anti Muslim attitude,and liking for Rajputs to his debit.
UP today boasts of the third largest economy in the country with a nominal GDP of US $ 240 billion 2020 -21 Rs.17.05 trillion at current prices compared to this it stood at Rs 15 trillion or us$190 bnin2015-16.The gross state domestic product of UP grew at a compound rate of 1.95 % per annum over 2017-21 despite the Covid problem .The growth in the first quarters of the current financial year too has been remarkable.
In western Uttar Pradesh where the farmers agitation had its roots; will not vote as per the liking of farmers rather the vote will go along the religious lines. BJP will dent JAT votes as the role of SP during Muzaffar Nagar riots is very much in the mind of people.
The election commissions ban on election rallies will also play its role. BJP has a strong and dedicated cadre of RSS to deliver things at the ground level besides their social media management is much strong than any other party in UP.
The election is getting interesting day by day and the verdict of people will add beautiful colours to this festival of democracy.
(The author is Professor (M.A.I.T) Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi)
Prof.M K Bhat