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With UP win, BJP breaks trend of state losses after 2014

The return of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh after a full five-year term not only marks a watershed in the state’s political history but, along with the BJP’s victory in three other states, upends the party’s national trend of losses in states after Narendra Modi took charge at the Centre in 2014.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2022 8:16:28 am
Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh latest news, UP Polls 2022, BJP wins UP, BJP, Yogi Adityanath, Narendra Modi, BSP, SP, UP BJP, indian express explained, indian expressAhead of the elections, the BJP mobilised and conducted several rounds of meetings with beneficiaries from the booth level to the district level – a potential 25-crore support base at the national level, according to the party.

THE RETURN of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh after a full five-year term not only marks a watershed in the state’s political history but, along with the BJP’s victory in three other states, upends the party’s national trend of losses in states after Narendra Modi took charge at the Centre in 2014.

In effect, it secures for the party the pole position in national politics based on electoral affirmation for its governance record.

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Since 2014, the BJP has lost its incumbent governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand while scraping through in Haryana. It did cobble up numbers in Madhya Pradesh, overturning the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in 2020.

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“We have broken that jinx now,” said a senior leader, “that we cannot retain power in the states under the new political scenario.”

“Uttar Pradesh has given a mandate to the BJP in 2014, 2017, and 2019. It is historic since 1985 and the thread we can weave into this is the victory of the new narrative of development, welfare, youth opportunity without discrimination, safety and security and law and order. It proves the trust the party has built-in which forced the pro-incumbency wave,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who was part of the BJP’s campaign strategy scheme.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai saw the outcome as setting a new course in national politics, which would make the “India concept” of Prime Minister Modi a reality. “The pro-incumbency factor comes when the people understand the leader and they feel the honesty of the government. What we saw today is a pan-India mandate – from Goa in the deep south to central Uttar Pradesh to Manipur in the east to Uttarakhand in the hills. It also gives hints on what is coming in 2024,” Bommai told The Indian Express. “It has a positive bearing on us in the Karnataka unit and we will work hard to reach the people’s programmes to them at the ground.”

Said a senior Cabinet minister: “We have recognised a new votebank – women and labharthis (beneficiaries) to support us. They have taken this election beyond caste and religious lines. The BJP president, even in a meeting Wednesday evening, had reiterated that if the party wins, it would be the dawn of a new politics in Indian electoral history.”

 

According to Bhupender Yadav, Union minister and a senior BJP leader, the pro-incumbency factor came into play because the people wanted to continue the pro-poor policies of the Modi government. “People wanted double-engine governments so that they can benefit the maximum out of them. It is an approval of the policies of the Modi government that it had in the past seven years,” he said.

Ahead of the elections, the BJP mobilised and conducted several rounds of meetings with beneficiaries from the booth level to the district level – a potential 25-crore support base at the national level, according to the party.

Under the PM Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojna, started during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are about 150 million beneficiaries who receive free ration every month, party leaders said. The party also reached out with its digital campaign to 5.5 crore of the estimated total Internet penetration of 8.3 crore people in UP, sources said.

The victory in Uttar Pradesh could reshape the power equations inside the party. “It is the first time a Chief Minister is emerging so powerful in the BJP in its new form. Yogi is returning to power in the biggest state and the vote share has gone up by two percentage points (from 39.67 % to 41.6 % ) which will make him a very powerful leader, elevating him to a national level. He will be the most sought-after campaigner now,” admitted a senior party leader.

Although resentment and anger over joblessness among the youth was palpable on the ground in Uttar Pradesh, the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP did not appear to enjoy the trust of the voters as an alternative to Yogi Adityanath. Nor did the SP have the party machinery or organisation network to cash in on and transform it into votes.

While the BJP cadre was mobilised and motivated by senior party leader and Home Minister Amit Shah who has a considerable hold over the organisation, Modi and Yogi cashed in on their public connect and popularity.

According to a party leader, the Opposition’s failure in mobilising people on the ground also made BJP’s victories easier. “While the Opposition made politics an electoral affair, the BJP is on the ground 24X7X365,” said the leader who has been in charge of BJP in a number of states.

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