Despite criticism of rights violation, the UP government was able to successfully project its crackdown on the mafia and the killing of criminals in police encounters as a sign of better law and order. In poll rallies, CM Adityanath and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have claimed a sharp drop in crimes such as murders, kidnapping and rapes over the past five years.
The free ration scheme of the Central and state governments was a gamechanger for the BJP as families struggled through a pandemic that led to the loss of lives and jobs. Besides the ration, other schemes such as the PM Kisan Nidhi, where money was transferred to the bank accounts of farmers, helped the BJP blunt anti-incumbency against it.
The BJP continued to be unabashed about its Hindutva card, with a string of visible outreach projects – from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s laying of the foundation stone at Ayodhya to the inauguration of the Kashi corridor. In his election rallies, CM Adityanath kept the heat on with his “80 vs 20” and ‘”Ali vs Bajrangbali’ comments – all of which helped consolidate the Hindu vote.
The BJP continued its door-to-door outreach even during the lockdown, much before the Opposition parties could start their campaign. Over the past six months, the BJP’s top leaders have been touring Assembly seats to inaugurate projects and lay foundation stones.
The BJP also created election coordination committees for each Assembly seat and organised samajik pratinidhi sammelans to reach out to Scheduled Castes and OBC castes. The party also set up a three-layer organisational structure involving national leaders to monitor the poll preparations.
Despite the Samajwadi Party scoring a big improvement from 2017 – from 47 seats five years ago to 114 now (won and leading) – with Opposition parties contesting separately, they ended up cutting into each other’s votes. The shrinking of the BSP and the Congress meant that in a bipolar field, the SP couldn’t breach the BJP’s mark.