While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has registered a thumping victory in the civic body polls in Uttar Pradesh, political experts attribute the win more to a goodwill gesture from the voters than anything else.
Dr Sandeep Shastri, a political scientist and the director of Jain University's Centre for Research in Social Science and Education, said the BJP is reaping the benefits of its honeymoon period in the state. It was only earlier this year that the BJP stormed to power in the assembly elections, forming a majority government.
“The people of the state want to see the government working. It has not been even a year since the people of Uttar Pradesh gave the BJP a majority and now they want to see the BJP even in the local bodies,” he said.
In UP, polling was held for 16 nagar nigams, 198 nagar palika parishads and 438 nagar panchayats. The BJP won the mayoral seat in 14 of the 16 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, with Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress failing to register even a single win.
The BJP won the mayoral seats in Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Agra, Firozabad, Ayodhya, Mathura, Lucknow, Kanpur, Saharanpur, Jhansi, Bareilly and Moradabad while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won in Aligarh and Meerut.
Sanyukta Bhatia of the BJP got elected as the first ever female mayor of UP's capital Lucknow. She beat her nearest rival, the SP's Meera Vardhan, by a margin of more than 1.31 lakh votes. Likewise, the BSP's Mohammad Furqan became the first Muslim to get elected as Aligarh's mayor after independence.
Independent candidates and small parties such as All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) performed well in the civic polls. AIMIM won two municipal corporation seats, six council seats, one nagar panchayat chairman seat and six of its candidates got elected as nagar panchayat members. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which contested the civic polls in UP for the first time, saw 14 of its candidates winning as councillors. Two won the nagar panchayat chairman poll and 19 got elected as nagar panchayat members.
Veteran journalist and political commentator Shrawan Shukla said independent candidates performed well in the polls because of their good image. He said local people with good image contest these polls independently when any political party does not give them a ticket. He pointed out that not even a single BJP candidate won in deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's hometown and an independent candidate won from the ward of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. He said that this showed that some parties did not choose the right candidates.
At the same time, he noted that the SP in Ayodhya fielded a transgender, who gave a tough fight to the BJP's Rishikesh Upadhyay.
The BJP, which had a winning percentage of 87.5 in the civic polls, maintained its voting percentage by performing at the grassroots level. The saffron party had won 10 out of 12 seats in the 2012 civic polls.
Shalabh Mani Tripathi, the Uttar Pradesh spokesperson of BJP, told Firstpost that this victory is a result of the hard work of the party cadre. He said people of the state have voted for development. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed many rallies for these polls. Tripathi said this paid dividends and the party got a resounding mandate from the people.
Vaibhav Maheshwari, the state spokesperson of AAP, thanked the citizens of the state for the encouraging response. At the same time, he contended that the result would have been better for AAP if the polling was done fairly and the issue of names missing from voters’ lists, apart from EVM-related problems, did not exist.
The campaign of the BSP and the SP was low-key. The SP, too, blamed faulty EVMs for poor results for the party. After the second phase of polling, the party had demanded repolling.
Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow based freelance writer and member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroot reporters
Updated Date: Dec 01, 2017 22:29 PM