Finally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is returning to power in Uttar Pradesh, ending all speculations that the weak opposition has peddled for months. With this victory, the first of its kind since 1985, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ensured that he succeeds Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the latter retires from active politics either after 2024 or 2029 elections. This also means the total decimation of all other parties in the state, as most of the opposition legislators and leaders will seek a way into the saffron camp to enjoy trickle-down benefits.
But for the rest of India, this rings an eerie alarm. The Modi regime and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—the parental body of the BJP—will be emboldened to vociferously propagate and practice their utmost communal and vitriolic politics, especially in the handful of opposition-led States to polarise the majority Hindu community.
Moreover, as the BJP has won Uttar Pradesh, the key state for the party, Modi may end the free food grain programme now, which helped the saffron camp garner votes in the state. This will lead to an economic catastrophe as the end of free food grains, coupled with spiralling fuel prices, will push millions of the state towards the brink of starvation. Apart from this, as Uttar Pradesh has been the most crime-prone state in India, it’s anticipated that the landslide victory of Yogi-led BJP will also lead to a surge in crimes in the state, especially against the minorities and the ostracised Dalits and backward classes (OBCs).
The BJP has received a shot in the arm with the victory in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh after suffering poll setbacks in 2021. Though the opposition has been levelling quintessential charges of tampering with the electronic voting machines (EVMs), their dismal performance in all states, except in Punjab, where a strong anti-BJP sentiment thrives, shows their decimated condition and utmost political bankruptcy. Even though the anti-BJP sentiments have been high in these states, including Uttar Pradesh, the opposition failed to reap the benefits.
What’s interesting to see in Uttar Pradesh is the closing margin between the BJP and its opponent Samajwadi Party, which allied with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). One of this election’s critical factors is the immense growth of anti-BJP votes in Uttar Pradesh, which got divided between the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress party. The farmers’ movement against Modi’s three farm laws paid a rich dividend in the Jat-dominated sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh, where not only the BJP lost in most of the seats, but also its hatemonger leaders like Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana, Umesh Malik, etc, faced ignominious poll drubbing.
Even where the RLD lost against the BJP, the margin has been significantly narrowed vis-à-vis the 2017 elections. In urban Uttar Pradesh, Bundelkhand region and Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh), the BJP maximised its gains by utilising the dominance of feudal landlords who command the voting pattern in their villages. This helped the BJP gain immensely in Lakhimpur Kheri, where its leader Ashish Mishra has been accused of masterminding a farmers’ genocide in October 2021.
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections results have shown that a weak and disarrayed opposition, which really has no narrative and can’t ideologically polarise the people, has no chance to stand against the well-organised BJP-RSS machinery. Though communal polarisation of Hindus, especially weaning away the Dalits and OBCs in several constituencies using sheer Islamophobia, helped Yogi, the ace was the discombobulated and fragile opposition, which came into the canvass in December 2021 and is now returning to hibernation again, until 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
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