Brand Modi: Trusted or Thrusted?

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DELHI 4 (1)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recreated the magic of 2014 General Elections in the State Assembly Elections this year in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The BJP had won 312 seats in Uttar Pradesh while in Uttarakhand it returned to power by winning 57 out of 70 seats. In Punjab, Congress won 77 constituencies in a House of 117. In Manipur, the Amit Shah-led party had 21 MLAs and secured support of 11 others adding up to 32 legislators and formed the government in the 60-member Assembly under the leadership of N Biren Singh. In Goa, the saffron had bagged 13 seats in the polls, while it claims support of three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party and Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party, besides three independents. Congress had won 17 seats.

The people of Uttar Pradesh once again rode on saffron sweep and trusted ‘brand Modi’ style of politics aimed at bringing change in the mindset of the state to overcome it from the clutches of backwardness and poverty. Well-researched catching theme of Na Goonda Raj Na Bhrashtachar (No crime, no corruption) ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (Everyone’s contribution, everyone’s evolution) and sharp splitting of Muslim votes virtually paid him dividends of unimaginable historic victory that ended the political exile of BJP after 14 years. It was the over dominance of Modi-Modi and only Modi that revolved as a central theme in the entire campaign of all the parties that gave him edge over others.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi bitterly trampled down the showcase of hollow development model displayed by Congress-Samajwadi alliance and slogan of ‘Sarvjan Hitaye, Sarvjan Sukhaye’ (Welfare and wellbeing of all) led by Bahujan Samaj Party and even personally attacked his rivals blaming them for maladministration and corruption.

Despite there being no wave of any party and amid deep silence of the voters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhibited his unparalleled oratory skills to overturn the elections and ensured overwhelming majority for Bhartiya Janata Party. Though his popularity graph was not as high as in 2014 general elections as BJP had secured 42.63 per cent vote share as compare to 2017 Assembly elections it came down to 39.7 per cent. But since it won 312 seats, it hardly matters much.

Congress-SP alliance was the last ditch effort to consolidate anti-BJP votes but Prashant Kishor failed to add BSP to the group

Overwhelmed by the BJP’s successes in theAssembly polls, party chief Amit Shah said that the saffron party’s win in the next Lok Sabha elections would surpass its performance of 2014. Terming the massive win in UP as popular endorsement of the BJP-led NDA government’s pro-poor policies, he claimed that unprecedented victory in theAssembly polls of five states is bigger than theparty’s victory in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “We will get a bigger mandate in 2019,” hoped Shah, who was instrumental in masterminding the successful campaign for the BJP.

Soon after the elections were over amid speculations of hung Assembly sitting Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had favoured a post-poll alliance with his arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party Supremo Mayawati to check BJP from taking over the reins of power. Perhaps this late realisation that both were fighting a common enemy — BJP, however, emerged very late after he lost all grounds and failed to forge consolidation of Muslim support due to sharp split of interests between them.

The overconfidence of Akhilesh Yadav, coupled with poor state of law and order, pushed back his development agenda as his tall claims of uninterrupted power supply were blown to winds when he and his wife Dimple were performing ritual along with Rahul Gandhi in the Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple. People were really fed up with collapsed law and order mechanism and discriminatory distribution of power supply, where roaster of priority has been fixed in accordance with VIP constituencies related to prominent political leaders. Modi highlighted this plight of common man in his rallies, promising them equal distribution of power without any discrimination, actually hit the right chord with masses.

Akhilesh Yadav 16
Overconfidence kills: Overconfidence, along with poor law and order, seems to have overshadowed of Akhilesh Yadav’s development agenda

After ousting his father Mulayam Singh Yadav from the position of Party President and usurping all powers into his own hands, Akhilesh faced inner revolt within his family as well as he felt its aftershocks from the party cadre during the course of electioneering due to his arrogance of power. Even his step mother Sadhna Gupta Yadav openly criticised him before media just before the last phase of poll in eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, where the stakes were high in the stronghold of his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav. She lamented that Akhilesh was totally misled and surrounded by clever sycophants who have exploited him for their personal business gains.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor was roped in Uttar Pradesh by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi after the success of his Bihar assembly election campaign that brought anti-BJP political forces to form Mahagathbandhan to fight unitedly against the growing might of Modi. Despite masterminding the 2014 election campaign for BJP, Kishor parted his ways with him following personal differences. Rahul entrusted him with multiple task of galvanising the party that was virtually at the brink of losing its relevance ever since it lost power in 1989. Confused Congress High Command failed to understand the ground realities as its prominent leaders felt suffocated and jittery with the prominence and style of functioning of Kishor and his ideas to revamp party prospects and started complaining against his behaviour. State Congress President Raj Babbar always showed his discomfort with him.

In view to attract young voters Kishor wanted Gandhi scion, Priyanka Gandhi to become chief ministerial face for the revival of the party but his idea was outrightly rejected. Though his idea to give importance to a Brahmin face brought Sheila Dikshit to the front and ‘KisanYatra’ and ‘27 Saal UP Behaal Yatra’ campaigns contributed much to revitalise its cadres but indecisive and scared leadership failed to act timely to capitalise its dividends.

Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance was his last ditch effort to consolidate anti-BJP votes but he failed to bring along Akhilesh Yadav and BSP Supremo Mayawati together under united front with Congress Party as he did in Bihar. High ambitions for power and inflated egos of both the leaders were said to be a root cause behind the failure to form ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Uttar Pradesh despite efforts put in by Bihar Chief Minister NitishKumar and RJD chief Lalu Yadav. Mulayam Singh was openly against this alliance as his party was born with anti-Congress votes and he knew more about the party’s roots. He just campaigned for his brother Shivpal Yadav, daughter-in-law Aparna Bisht Yadav and two other seats. His aloofness in the election campaign is being blamed for splitting the Muslim votes between SP and BSP, paving the way for landslide victory of BJP.

The phenomenal rise of vote share of BJP could be gauged from the fact that in 2012, it secured third position with 15 per cent vote share and won 47 Assembly seats while SP topped the list with 29.13 per cent vote share bagged 224 seats. BSP secured 25.91 per cent vote share and could won 80 seats. Just 3.22 per cent difference of vote share deprived Mayawati to win 144 seats. Congress won 28 seats with just vote share of 11.65 per cent. The saffron tide of BJP rose its vote share to 42.63 in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 by winning 71 seats but in the latest Assembly elections, it was reduced to 39.7 per cent, 2.93 per cent less, but were successful in winning 312 assembly seats.

Congress-SP alliance was the last ditch effort to consolidate anti-BJP votes but Prashant Kishor failed to add BSP to the group

It is surprising that the BSP that stood second in terms of vote share after BJP with 22.2 per cent could win just 19 seats whereas despite being third with 21.8 per cent vote share SP won 47 seats. Congress Party with just 6.2 per cent vote share with 7 seats. Had they gone for Bihar type experiment of ‘Mahagathbandhan’, the results could be comfortably reversed. Samajwadi Party leaders are shocked and surprised by over 7.33 per cent decline of their vote share from 29.13 per cent in 2012 to 21.8 per cent in 2017, despite vigorously pursuing development agenda right from flagship schemes like Samajwadi pension scheme that provide Rs 500 per month to more than 50 lakh women beside food, medicines and prenatal care to them. Ambulance services and free medical care in all the government hospitals were available to all. Even X-ray and pathological tests were made free of cost.

Lohiya Awas and free distribution of e-rikshaws to poor and BPL people were most popular development initiatives of outgoing Samajwadi government. Metro Rail projects and Expressway project were major infrastructural efforts of Akhilesh. He gave boost to sports activities and constructed international-level stadium in Lucknow and Sefai (Etawah). In fact, deteriorating law and order situation and failure to check illegal mining were the only areas where his governance had bitterly failed despite launching of Dial 100 and 1090 services outside control of local police to minimise political interference. All these steps yielded no dividends for Akhilesh but he will be remembered for conceiving radical structural changes in the way of effective policing.

Mayawati, meanwhile, could not relish the unprecedented reversals of her party and even before the final outcome of elections. She alleged manipulation in EVMs by BJP and protested the unimaginable counting trends. The General Secretary of the party Satish Chandra Mishra sent complaint to Chief Election Commissioner of India to stop declaration of results and have EVMs technically examined by experts from abroad as even the Muslim areas account for heavy polling in favour of BJP.

Addressing a big gathering on the occasion of anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram, Mayawati alleged that BJP manipulated and rigged the polls and dishonestly obtained mandate in the state. Thereby, “killing democracy.” She challenged the BJP leaders and said, “If they are truthful and honest then they must go for seeking mandate again through old system of secret paper ballots.” BSP will soon launch agitation in other states also to expose BJP rigging. “My party cadre voted for our party but their votes went to BJP due to large scale manipulations in EVMs. Nobody could digest such an anomalous victory,” she said, adding that her party would approach the court over the issue.

The bureaucracy of the state is closely watching the moves and priorities of new government and realigning its ties with BJP leadership. Major reshuffling of administrative set up is on the card as soon as new government is sworn in. The choice of the new chief minister of the state would be in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah who will indicate it to central observers of the Party- Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav will be revealing the name and would hold the meeting of BJP legislature party, wherein formal announcement would be made. Union Minister Manoj Sinha, State President Keshav Prasad Maurya, Siddharth Nath Singh, Santosh Gangwar are said to be in close race. A section of party leaders is also talking about eight-time MLA Suresh Khanna besides Home Minister Rajnath Singh, whose profile makes him a perfect claimant for the experienced job.

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