Report: Uttar Pradesh Elections

- Lalit Sisodia , Journal Club

2017-03-11

Cultural

If Uttar Pradesh were a country, it would have been the sixth most populous country in the world. Home to 204 million people, UP has more people than countries like Pakistan, Brazil, Russia and Japan. Yet its Per capita Income wouldn’t have been more than Kenya’s. Therefore, it is in no way an exaggeration to suggest that the UP Elections are the most significant electoral phenomenon in India after the General elections. They can change the course of politics of the country, they influence the policy at the Centre, they determine our T1s (that was a joke :3). In the current report, I intend to give you a quick glance at the background of the elections, the stakeholders involved in the elections and what the likely outcomes would mean to the country as a whole.

Background:
Ex-post defacto demonetization and SP feud has unquestionably upped the ante. This will surely be biggest challenge for BJP since it has come to power. This election is not only referendum to Modi’s policies but will decide how aggressively NDA is going to present its 2019 bid. For Congress, the coming election could redeem its “young” vice-president some credibility and it will undoubtedly boost the confidence of party workers and can bring them out of hopelessness and misery for elections to come.
For Mayawati and company, after the humiliation of 2014 this election’s results will decide the future of BSP and a victory in this state can lead BSP into different trajectory altogether. Well the last contender(s) is Samajwadi party, indubitably before the rancorous fight and so called “split”, this party was leading the flock, but party’s image is facing flak due to recent development beyond any doubt. The country ‘s most influential family going through a tough time, this election is not only about a “chair” it’s about honor for Mulayam and for neophyte like Akhilesh who talks of development and good politics, results will set political goals for 2019 or may be 2024. Demonetization, SP split, role of SC and EC, minority and Dalits vote banks: these are issues that is going to dominate the days to come. We should look how these issues going to affect each party’s bid and we will try to get some insight what each political party is planning this election.

Stakeholders:
BJP: The BJP election campaign has come to a halt after the unprecedented move of Nov 8th that drew strong criticism. Not only did it result in complete chaos on ground, but acted as a disruption to economy. Post demonetization India’s growth rate slowed to 7% while it was 7.6% the previous December. The only silver lining for the right wing party is that the people have perceived the whole fiasco differently than it actually is. More accurately, Modi has sold the noteban policy very smartly first by “Black Money Strike ” later by “fake currency notes” issue and then with “cashless Economy” card. Well, it will interesting to watch how it plays out. After the pre-poll alliance of SP-Congress things have slightly changed for BJP. Earlier they were the forerunners but after the alliance they have tough task to complete .Earlier the “swing” voters (including youth, non OBCs) were inclining towards BJP, since they tend to vote for wining party but after the emergence of the alliance they may change their opinion. Nonetheless , BJP has a strong upper caste support and but Amit Shah also has an eye on Non-Dalit and Non-Yadav votes because in a state of turbulence they could act as the deciding factor . Leaders like Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj have their part to play with their Pro-Hindu image . One thing that act into favour of BJP is charisma of Modi and “Surgical strikes”. They also have their Ram mandir card which they can use anytime soon.

SP: On the eve of 30th Dec, Mulayam and Shivapal sacked his son and brother Ramgopal Yadav. What followed was an unprecedented family melodrama. Akhilesh himself declared up de jure national president of SP, both factions were then scuffling to get the previous party symbol ‘cycle’. This acrimonious fight has surely dented the image of party. But after the alliance, Akhilesh Yadav fiercely started the campaign along with Rahul Gandhi. Minority voters which were shifting away to BSP, may do “ghar wapsi” again to SP. Akhilesh Yadav all set to cash in the “development” agenda along with the lucrative schemes like smart phone to everyone and full loan waiver to farmer.He is hoping to get the support of youth along the upper middle class voter who votes only the basis of work and development. But BJP and its IT cell is ready to make sure that does not happen. It will be interesting to watch how Akhilesh makes his way to the Secretariat in Lucknow.

BSP: Earlier they were not even in the race but the split has created a cavern for BSP. Mayawati is looking for clubbing the two vote banks - Dalits and minority - since they constitute 40% of the total population. Out of 403 constituencies, some 180 seats given for them (later getting 97 seats). There is hardly anything catchy about BSP campaign apart from Pro-Dalit image and aura of Mayawati.

Congress: They were not even in the picture. It was the only party that had declared its CM candidate “Sheila Dikshit”, maybe just to take responsibility of prognostic defeat so as to save Rahul Gandhi. But little after EC ruled in favour of Akhilesh Yadav, SP formed a pre-poll alliance with congress. After multiple twists and turns and long negotiations Congress sealed the deal, getting a handsome 105 seats which is way more than it should have, given its performance in 2012 and 2014 elections. While Congress is so looking to ride on Akhilesh Yadav's agenda of development, it will be interesting to watch how ace strategist Prashant Kishore designs the campaign .Clearly this alliance has an eye on Muslim voters; since Muslims tend to vote the party likely to defeat BJP, the only available option - which is this alliance - will benefit in this scenario.

Conclusion:
SC order on caste appeasement may change few more equations in caste driven politics of UP elections. SC ruled that candidature could be scrapped in caste appeasement cases. The judgement will affect all the parties since all of them have different vote banks.
With that being said there is no denying Akhilesh has emerged as new force in UP politics. Where on one hand, a mother is still spoon feeding a 46-year-old vice president, Akhilesh is welcome change for Indian politics. His role in the coming elections will decide the direction of assembly elections. BJP is all prepped to capitalize on Yadav’s feud but only weakness being no local leader that can be face of campaign. BSP is undoubtedly the Dark horse and we know very well why. Congress also has an important part to play, not as the king but as a kingmaker. There is one thing for sure for, an exciting contest awaits us.