Hyderabad: The unfolding situation in Uttar Pradesh indicates that the BJP may not find itself in a comfortable position as it was in 2017, when it steamrolled its way to power by bagging 312 seats in the Assembly on the planks of social justice and Hindutva. Five years down the lane, the party hopes to repeat the performance, but will the BJP juggernaut roll this year too? It may not be so, if one were to look at the fast-changing political scenario.
Firstly, the exodus of three ministers and a dozen legislators from the BJP had seriously dented the image of the Yogi-led government and it is evident all is not hunky-dory in Uttar Pradesh, as the BJP national leadership wants everyone to believe. The banner of revolt raised by the OBC/Dalit leadership against the BJP is noteworthy because the party had managed to put in its kitty 312 seats in the last elections on the narrative of twin planks of social justice for backward classes and Dalits and Hindutva.
The recent developments indicate that it would not be that easy for the BJP leadership to bank on the same narrative, as the Samajwadi Party has made inroads into the bastions of the ruling party and now a majority of OBC/Dalit leaders who quit the BJP are likely to join the SP thus changing the electoral dynamics.
The second point to ponder is the silent but visible disenchantment of the Brahmin community with the ruling BJP. Though the BJP hopes to further consolidate its position because of the Hindutva plank, there has been distrust brewing in this powerful segment. The Brahmin community, political analysts say, is of the view that the current dispensation in the BJP has sidelined senior most leaders like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
The third point that appears to be going against the BJP is the rejuvenation of the Samajwadi Party and even the Congress to some extent. The SP has got a shot in the arm with the MLAs and Ministers shunning the BJP and joining it, and the powerful narrative they build on the argument that the BJP had done nothing for the BCs and Dalits.
Coupled with this is the economic distress due to the pandemic. Except for the affluent, all sections of society faced economic distress due to the pandemic, managing of which was not so successful for the BJP government so as to make any claims. Everyone knew how the BJP government at the State and Centre bungled to improve the health infrastructure to treat those affected, which led to many deaths purely because of the medical infrastructure not being ready to cope with the developments. Who would forget the powerful images of hundreds of bodies being buried on the banks of Ganga? Would the ploy of ‘ganga snan’ by the party supremo and Prime Minister Narendra Modi be able to erase them? It is doubtful.
The fourth point of contention, which goes against the BJP is the farmers’ issue. This particular segment has now demonstrated its ability to mobilise against the government and carry on regardless of the counter-narrative built by the BJP at different levels including branding the agitating farmer as a separatist and anti-national. The euphoria of succeeding against the Centre and forcing it to retrace its steps in respect of the farm laws is still fresh in the collective psyche of the farmers’ segment.
Fifthly, there is a growing feeling among people that national and State elections are different. While many might prefer the BJP at the national level, it may not be so at the State level and this would be the biggest challenge for Yogi to face.
The BJP faces a similar situation in all other States which go to polls in February. If one were to look at Uttarkhand, the situation is almost similar. The only difference is that while Yogi continued to be the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, there was a leadership change two times in Uttarkhand and the BJP rank and file were not too happy.
In Goa too, there has been desertions from the BJP and the latest to raise the banner of revolt is Utpal Parrikar, son of former CM Manohar Parrikar. Utpal questioned whether the BJP would ‘believe in honesty and character’, while finalising party tickets. What prompted Utpal to make a strident attack was a comment by senior party leader Devendra Fadnavis that first priority for getting tickets is ‘qualification’ and not because someone is a son of a leader. In Punjab too, the BJP is facing an uphill task what with the AAP and the Congress becoming stronger by the day.
On the whole, an emerging opinion is that the BJP is likely to face reverses not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in Uttarkhand and Goa. Only in Manipur, the party appears to be having a smooth sailing.