Uttar Pradesh (UP) is said to be the trend-setter among states when it comes to political discourse inIndia. It is also said that whoever or whichever party captures UP will most likely conquer India.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has bettered its tally from eight mayoral seats in 2007 to 10 this time. The Congress, which last time bagged three mayoral seats in Jhansi, Allahabad and Bareilly, was not able to open its account. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not contest the elections officially although they allowed their supporters to contest as independents with both the parties extending support. That way both bagged one seat each.
With the lotus on the bloom after the debacle in the last Assembly Elections held recently in 2012, the BJP seems buoyed enough to have declared that the results suggest that the electorate has got fed up with the performance of the rest of the parties, especially the Congress which has put the people under duress owing to inflation. ‘Municipal election results prove that after assembly polls people have once again rejected Congress. People are looking towards BJP as they are fed up with the policies of all other opposition parties’, BJP Spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said in an interaction with the media.
But BJP leaders seem to have forgotten that in the last local body elections (2007) also the party had registered impressive gains and captured eight mayoral seats but could garner only 51 seats in the Assembly Elections in 2007. This time around their tally in the recently concluded Assembly Elections went down further and the party ended up getting just 47 seats and a meager 15 per cent of the votes. What is not catching the eyes of the party command structure and strategists is that there appears to be a contradiction between their voter base in local body elections and the Assembly Elections. Should it be presumed that the people of the state deem BJP fit only to deal with municipal problems of sewage and garbage collection etc. and incapable of leading the state government at large?
It is amusing that the BJP leaders are vying for public support with the Congress which itself was routed in its traditional bases of Rae Bareli and Amethi in the 2012 Assembly Elections. It is sad that the BJP is not able to comprehend that 2014 will not be a test for the Congress because the Congress will be saddled by its scam-ridden history that will have exacerbated the anti-incumbency factor by that time. The BJP will be measuring swords with the SP and not the Congress.
The SP is all the more keen to translate its Assembly Elections success into a clean sweep in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 General Elections. It has made no secret of making Mulayam Singh Yadav the next Prime Ministerial candidate if the possibility of a Third Front is realised. That is a scenario when a Congress supported government comes to power but which comprises non-Congress and non-BJP parties.
The BJP does not want to stir up its rivalry with the SP, perhaps, because the party still wants to continue in denial.
Another thing that comes to mind is whether the BJP has lost its touch with the rural electorate as the party seems to be veering to its early days of inception, when the party was considered the stronghold of only urban middle-level businessmen and petty bourgeois. If the Assembly Elections results are compared with the party’s performance in the local body elections, it begs of no other analysis but the abovesaid.
But the Mayoral Election results are sure to give the SP leaders sleepless nights when the party has openly declared its mind regarding the upcoming General Elections. Sometime ago Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had claimed in an interview given to a prominent national newspaper that UP and the SP will decide the fate of the next government in India. Surely, the results do not augur well for such intentions. What should be more disturbing for the SP is that the BJP has recorded victories in the Muslim majority areas of Aligarh and Moradabad apart from Kanpur and Lucknow which too have a sizeable Muslim population. The BJP has retained Aligarh but has snatched Moradabad from the SP. It a matter of speculation whether the SP will decide the fate of the next government at the Centre, but UP for sure will be the kingmaker.