By Komal Bardwaj
Edited by Shambhavi Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
BJP’s feat in the recent by-poll elections in Uttar Pradesh exhibited a decreasing illuminated area of control that had been made by BJP’s then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. With BJP garnering three out of eleven legislative assembly seats that went for elections in UP, the end product of the local elections has painted a jaded imagery of the party that was basking in the profound glory of securing majority just four months ago. The by-poll outcomes drastically contradicted the registered historic event, where BJP secured 282 out of 584 seats in the national elections. And the contributing factor to this hallmark victory was attributed to shining sweep in UP, where BJP won 72 of 80 seats.
Adding to his historic victory, Narendra Modi remembered to lay a referendum not only on Manmohan Singh’s bad governance, but also on the Gandhi dynasty’s cumbersome bureaucracy politicking. For the first time, BJP’s vote share surpassed Congress’ vote share. BJP was believed to get 1 in 3 votes, whereas only 1 in 5 voters chose Congress.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) seemed to have embarked on a more channelized way by winning remaining eight of the eleven seats in the by-polls held in UP. Samajwadi Party’s Mahendra Patel Singh established his mandate at the Rohaniya constituency, a part of Varanasi, which was once represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pulling off the BJP- Apna Dal alliance. Congress vote bank drew a blank. The unexpected victory is believed to give a head start boost to ruling SP’s morale which got dejected response in the national elections.
Ignoring the blistering communal hatred that made way to UP’s streets; the voters were believed to have voted for the dream of development and progressive governance that Modi sold to the voters. The “Modi wave” was infused with the advocacy of renewal of the shattered economy, recovering the dying job market, evading the dark gloom of inflation descended on the Indian economy. It laid emphasis on developmental and constructive ideology, “parivartan” and “vikas”. Equality was given the requisite preference, “sab ka sath, sab ka vikaas”. This campaign absolutely refuted the state of divided India in the name of secularism.
The rationale that possibly pacifies the visible waning away of the “Modi effect” can be credited to the nature of campaign screened in by-poll elections. The probe into the “Love-jihad” concept tells us that the campaign was structured with staunch polarizing motives and divisive intentions which will create a cultural, social, religious, and a political divide.
After the glorious victory in the national elections, BJP was expected to hit the highest position in the by-poll elections. Gorakhpur’s MP, Yogi Adityanath, the contentious figure was in-charge of the campaign. He made profane statements that would further deepen religious polarization. He went on to explain the regressive concept of “Love-jihad”, a practice that Muslims adopt, in which Muslim boys marry Hindu girls in order to increase the population of Muslims in India.
The campaign drafted by the local BJP-RSS leaders was believed to have had an opposing effect on BJP’s expectations. The campaign by the over confident leaders had the motif of sketching India’s image as a Hindu nation and enforcing a difference between the Hindu and Muslim population of India. What one can conclude from this is that it will tarnish the idea of secularism and it will create a void between two religious identities.
The Hindutva preachers seem to have underestimated the power of the voters. The occult of “ache din” is fading away due to the repulsive agendas that have been set to obtain power. Overall, the by-poll elections depict the power of Indian democracy to be functional where it counts. One would argue that the outcome of state elections cannot sketch out the national persisting mood, but it can surely serve as an indicator of voters being reactive to the unscrupulous mind games of the supposed peace figures.
Progressive development idea was replaced by the regressive idea of love-jihad and hence, the results observed are antithetical. BJP needs to look over its approach, for elections are not just a onetime affair. The ruling centre will have to testify to its promises if they want to resist any doomed state. The members of the party should first work towards establishing the harmonious mood amongst the population to attend the problems the country is dealing with. The reverse movement to religious polarization is not what is required. BJP should count on enhancing and drafting development policies instead of peace deteriorating agendas.