A tectonic shift

The Congress held sway over the state for many decades; the BJP too, for a few years, but for nearly two decades, the two regional parties, the SP and BSP, were dominant players.

Written by Ravi Shankar Prasad | Published:March 13, 2017 12:56 am
uttar pradesh, uttar pradesh assembly elections, up assembly elections, bjp, samajwadi party, sp, bahujan samaj party, bsp, indian express columns In fact, the extraordinary victory of the BJP in 1991, during the Ram lehar, had become a distant memory. Illustrations: C R Sasikumar

It will be an understatement to say that the result of the Uttar Pradesh election, where the BJP got an unprecedented three-fourth majority, bagging 325 seats, is historic. It represents, in many ways, a tectonic shift in the polity of India. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India, is a mini-India with all the currents, cross-currents and strands of competitive politics, in abundance. The Congress held sway over the state for many decades; the BJP too, for a few years, but for nearly two decades, the two regional parties, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), were dominant players. In fact, the extraordinary victory of the BJP in 1991, during the Ram lehar, had become a distant memory.

Then came the new defining moment of 2014, when the BJP and its allies won 73 seats out of 80. However, getting three-fourths of the seats now, 325 in 403 and retaining the same vote share, approximately 42 per cent in 2014, and nearly 40 per cent in 2017, after almost three years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration at the Centre, is phenomenal.

What does this indicate? First and foremost, this shows the profound connect which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has with the people of India, who are willing to trust even the hardest decisions taken by him as beneficial for the country and the common citizen. It is not simply his own charisma — this connect flows from an abiding belief that what PM Modi says is delivered. There is no corruption in decision-making at the central government. Pro-poor initiatives, like the Jan Dhan Yojana, Crop Insurance Scheme, various affordable insurance schemes, Ujjwala Yojana, cooking gas for the poor, electricity to unconnected villages, Swachh Bharat toilets in villages, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, all started showing their results on the ground.

As a minister of information technology, I can say that we have established nearly 2,00,000 Common Service Centres, delivering various digital services across the country, run by small entrepreneurs in Gram Panchayats and semi-urban areas, including minority and Dalit women. In Uttar Pradesh, there are more than 50,000 Common Services Centres. I organised large conferences around these in Varanasi and Meerut and I saw the sparkle in people’s eyes about Digital India and the promise of an exciting future that it holds for them. The phenomenal success of digital literacy, including for aanganwadi workers, was also helping this process. People on the ground were distinguishing with ease between the delivery of government of India programmes and the unfulfilled promises of the Akhilesh Yadav government — which were delivered in a highly partisan and discriminatory manner.

Coupled with this promising delivery was Narendra Modi’s leadership signifying courage and a strong conviction for a corruption-free India. Not only surgical strikes, even his bold gamble to invite a referendum on demonetisation was appreciated by the poor who perceive him as a leader keen to purge India of the ills of corruption and black money. The phenomenal success of these programmes is being recognised and appreciated the world over, but unfortunately, the opposition, primarily because of its antipathy to Modi, mocked at it. The people rejected such negative politics.

I myself campaigned extensively in Uttar Pradesh and one could clearly find a palpable connect between the poor and the prime minister. He is our man, our welfare is central to his priority, felt the common citizen. Therefore, there was a keen desire to bring a government which could work in coordination with the prime minister’s vision. In my considered view, this is therefore a victory of hope: It is an assertion of aspiration for good governance and growth with equity — without corruption.

Along with the extraordinary charisma of the prime minster, we also need to acknowledge the stellar role of the party president Amit Shah, who weaved together a fine rainbow coalition of various castes and communities, including OBCs and MBCs. I would say, not only the forward, backward and most backward castes, large numbers of young people, of all castes and communities — even Muslim women in good number, some of them victims of triple talaq — found solace in the BJP, which had the courage to challenge this menace head-on.

While we need to acknowledge the extraordinary hard work of the booth-level worker and the cadre, such an outstanding result, which never happened in terms of sheer scale before, must also highlight that this can happen only when the desire to bring the BJP to power becomes part of a peoples’ movement.

The BJP has won a three-fourth majority in Uttarakhand too, and even as it has lost Punjab, it is within striking distance of forming a government in Manipur. In all probability, it will retain Goa: The vote-share of the BJP in Goa is 32.5 per cent, while that of the Congress is 28.3 per cent. The extraordinary performance in Manipur, where the BJP did not even have a single ward counsellor, is truly phenomenal. The proud people of Manipur always wanted Manipur to come into the national mainstream.

Overall, today the BJP is truly an all-India party having a pan-India presence, from north to south, east to west. With the latest Vidhan Sabha results, 11 states, including some of the biggest states of India, will have a BJP chief minister. It is also a part of coalition governments in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland and Andhra Pradesh. With every possibility of having its own government in Manipur and Goa, the number of states governed by the BJP will only rise. The BJP’s vote share in West Bengal and Kerala has increased, while it is resurgent in Odisha.

All this is without any dynasty or family control — only by sheer hard work, good governance, profound organisational presence and leadership by a selfless person, a man of destiny, Narendra Modi, who has a vision to make India truly a great country. Desh jaagta hai, jagaane wala hona chahiye: The nation rises. But there must be one to awaken it to its destiny.

The writer is Union Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology
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