Lucknow: The debate may still rage on whether it was the projection of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's image or his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah's deft management skills that created the magic for the party in Uttar Pradesh. Whatever the reason may be, by getting 71 seats out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh, BJP not only secured an absolute majority for itself but also made Modi's path to 7 Race Course Road fairly easy.
While the performance of the BJP was astonishing, the Congress show was equally shocking. Only the mother-son duo of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi could retain their seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively. All other Congress candidates including bigwigs like Union Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Beni Prasad Verma failed to make a mark.
The swelling of support for the BJP was so much that Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party was simply wiped off the results tally while Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party got only five seats. Out of the five seats, Mulayam won the constituencies won the Azamgarh and Mainpuri. His daughter-in-law and wife of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Dimple Yadav retained her Kannauj seat. Mulayam's two nephews Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav also won in Badaun and Firozabad respectively.
Pratapgarh and Mirzapur went to Apna Dal.
The long-drawn campaign in the battleground state witnessed the BJP setting the agenda for other parties.
With the entire Sangh Parivar engaged in voter mobilsation at the grassroots level and the Muzaffarnagar riots in the backdrop, there was communal polarisation in some of the regions that went to polls in different phases.
The initial and concluding rounds of the six-leg elections in the state—western and eastern parts of UP voted in these phases—experienced a degree of polarisation while in the rest caste was the dominant factor. The BJP played its trump card, Narendra Modi, with deft hands. While fielding him from Varanasi was a masterstroke, the way the party used his growing appeal among masses through rallies at strategic locations was brilliant.
At some point, it was evident that other major parties were only reacting to the moves of the BJP and had failed to develop a strategy of their own. As Modi's political footprint kept growing in the state, the so called secular parties were found wanting in finding an answer to him. The Samajwadi Party was smug with the belief that it would benefit from reverse polarisation of votes given the Muslim antipathy towards Modi while the BSP stayed intriguingly quiet all through. The Congress, almost an also-ran in the election this time, was focusing on winnable seats only. The entrant, Aam Aadmi Party, was collecting goodwill points by the bucketfuls, but was hardly ever thought of as a force to challenge the established parties.
A lot was at stake for Modi in Uttar Pradesh, a state accounting for 80 seats in Lok Sabha. A good performance here would have set him on course to his Delhi dream, while a failure would have left him considerably weak within his own party and outside.
In the highly personalised campaign he led, the consequences, both positive and negative, had to be borne by him. The question in UP never was whether the party with him as the face would perform better; it was how well it would translated in terms of seats. The party had been expecting a 50+ tally here, and not many found that to be irrational optimism.
The Congress, waging the weakest political battle in its history, was written off by political opponents. It's strategy all through was minimising the damage. It won 20+ seats in 2009 and secured 18 percent of the vote share, a commendable performance given the virtual organisational collapse in the state. It is obvious that it failed to build on that. The disastrous performance in the 2012 assembly should have been a warning signal. However, the party failed to initiate corrective measures, even an introspection was missing.
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Updated Date: May 17, 2014 12:39:48 IST