Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: BJP appears to be facing an existential crisis

If signals emanating from the grass root level in Western Uttar Pradesh are being read correctly, the BJP appears to be facing an existential crisis. Don’t be surprised if the saffron outfit is seen fighting the third and fourth spots along with Choudhary Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. For, most of the 71 constituencies that go to polls in the first phase on 11 February are likely to witness a virtual direct contest between the SP-Congress Alliance and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Indeed, politics is in the process of witnessing a tectonic shift this time for three reasons: First, the Jats who had formed the core of BJP’s vote base along with Brahmins, Banias and Thakurs are now up in arms against the saffron outfit. They are tilted towards the RLD and the Alliance depending on the strength of individual candidates from constituency to constituency in all the six divisions of Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Bareilly, Agra and Aligarh.

File image of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File image of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Second, there is no reverse polarisation for the simple reason that there is no communally surcharged atmosphere this time. Peace prevails. And we are, more or less, back to the pre-2014 days when there wasn’t any Muzaffarnagar riot factor to cause a huge communal divide. Muslim voters are now both united and divided – united in their single point agenda to beat the BJP and divided between the Alliance and the BSP when it comes to weighing the chances of individuals candidate’s strength vis-à-vis the saffron camp.

And third, the so far hidden negative impact of notebandi is beginning to come to the fore. Little wonder then that even other non-Jat farming communities including powerful Gujjars look inclined mainly towards the BSP and the Alliance.

What further adds poignancy to BJP’s woes is the fact that there is a general ‘feel good aura’ around the Alliance that’s impacting the minds of the otherwise unattached young voters cutting across caste lines. Remember, it was this group of voters that had triggered the big Modi-wave all across UP in 2014.

Also remember that in the past 25 years or so the SP and the Congress had, at best, been minor forces in Western UP. Their fortunes seem to have changed dramatically since the formation of the alliance ten days ago. They are the new favourites of Muslims and OBCs. Didn’t you notice the confident, self-assured looks of both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav that were there for all to see during the road shows in Lucknow and Agra? Smiling and waving to the crowds, they were basking in the popular response. Obviously.

Even Mayawati, who has been addressing huge rallies in strategic places including Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, appears to be aware of the fact that BJP’s otherwise solid vote base of Jats, Brahmins, Banias and other upper caste Hindus is no longer an impregnable fortress. While Jats are prepared to give another chance to the RLD, more and more upper caste Hindus are beginning to look towards the Alliance as an option.

Little wonder then that the BSP supremo is working hard to thwart the ongoing movement of upper castes towards the Rahul-Akhilesh duo. She made it a point to reiterate once again her party’s resolve to extend reservation quota benefits to ‘poor among the upper castes’. She also promised to waive farmers’ loan up to Rupees one lakh per head.
In the backdrop of the disintegration of BJP’s core vote bank, there is another youngster who has descended on the scene making the battle in the Jatland a four-cornered affair – Jayant Choudhary, son of Ajit Singh and grandson of Choudhary Charan Singh. Known for his anti-BJP views, the young Jat has achieved an appreciable degree of connect with the masses.

Jayant’s theory of success is simple: “People want to live in peace. There is no point scratching the old communal wounds again and again. People get fed up with rantings and ravings of the likes of Yogi Adityanath, Sangeet Som and Sanjeev Balyan. People are intelligent enough to see through their divide and rule game. Don’t you see, the masses have already decided to punish them?”

Be that as it may, one thing is certain: All calculations based on 2014 election results look set to fall flat on the ground. And don’t be surprised if psephologists, who count on randomly picked samples from here and there, bite the dust once again. As always.

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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2017 14:52:24 IST

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