The date has been announced. The stage is set. The assembly elections in UP, politically India’s most critical state will take place in 7 phases between 11th of February and 8th of March.
UP 2017 Election is essentially a battle between 4 Political parties – SP, BSP, Congress and the BJP and all 4 parties are uniquely placed in this election.
Let us first talk about the Congress party, evidently the most organized party in the UP 2017 battle. There is no squabbling over candidate list, Campaigning is being managed by the Chanakya of Electioneering, a party old-timer is overseeing the poll preparations and a 3-time CM is in the race for the Top post of the state.
However, the only thing that remains to be seen is – “Who’ll vote for the Congress Party?” Yes, the party knows that it has zero connect with the voters of UP and hence is calmer than all other parties. Congress is expected to win seats in the traditional strongholds of Gandhi-Nehru family, the odds of the Party scoring a goal in any other regions are really low. Kisan Yatras and Khaat pe Charcha cannot fix the ground reality that Congress is in for a massive drubbing. In a highly improbable event of a pre-poll alliance, it will be more than willing to play a junior player.
Then, there is BSP led by the mercurial Mayawati – self-proclaimed champion of Dalit rights in India. This is a make or break election for Kanshiram’s protégé. She received a chastening defeat at the hands of a resurgent Samajwadi Party in 2012. Akhilesh Yadav’s foreign return charms appealed more to the UP Electorate than the Rustic frolics of Mayawati. Barely 2 years later, she was swept away by the NaMo Tsunami that painted the state saffron. BSP couldn’t even get off the mark. So, 2017 UP election is a bigh test for Bahan Kumar Mayawati. If she fails, she’ll soon become what Left Party has become in West Bengal. Inconsequential.
Although unsubstantiated, there have been claims that Mayawati amassed a colossal amount of cash, much of which was there for the election expenses. Most of the money must have been rendered useless now, courtesy NaMo’s demonetisation program. Demonetisation has had a crippling effect on Mayawati. BSP was struggling to stem the exodus of Party seniors and stalwarts and in the middle of it cash crunch hit them like a thunderbolt. The only silver lining in this very dark cloud is the infighting in SP. Mayawati hopes that because of SP’s infighting, a large number of Muslims will swear allegiance to the BSP. And she is ready to welcome them with open arms. This is evident from BSP candidates list where the party gave tickets to 92 Muslim Candidates, a dozen more than last time and 10 more than Party’s most loyal voter base – Dalits.
Then, there is the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav or Akhilesh Yadav? The father-son duo is currently embroiled in a mega slugfest and the name, symbol, leadership and legacy of the party lies at the mercy of the Election Commission. Akhilesh Yadav declared himself the party chief in SP National Executive meeting and sacked Mulayam’s most trusted Lieutenant Amar Singh very publicly. Mulayam Singh on the other hand declared the meeting unlawful and unconstitutional. No one now knows who is in the party and who is not? Cadres are confused and poll preparations have hit a lull.
But that’s not the only problem of SP. Their biggest problem is the huge anti-incumbency against the government. Uttar Pradesh had high hopes from foreign return babua Akhilesh Yadav. But Uttar Pradesh remained as unruly as it was when Mulayam was the CM. Apart from law and order, employment remains a big problem, miserable healthcare and sanitation facilities, lack of civic amenities and bad infrastructure are key issues too.
SP regime also saw several communal riots, Muzzaffarnagar riots being the biggest among them. SP’s second most loyal voter base – Muslims are both annoyed and confused. Annoyed because of the treatment meted out to them after the Muzzaffarnagar riots and confused because of the SP infighting. It will be difficult if not impossible for SP to win the same percentage of Muslim votes again. And without Muslim votes, SP isn’t even a serious player.
Now let us talk about the BJP – the mightiest political force in the country. In the summer of 2014, BJP won 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats. And in all probabilities the party looks in the perfect position to win the UP 2017 battle as well.
BJP benefits the most when its enemies are not united. NCP and Congress failed to reach to an agreement in Maharashtra. BJP won. Congress and JMM failed to reach to an agreement in Jharkhand. BJP won. INLD and Congress failed to reach to an agreement in Haryana. BJP won. Congress and AIUDF failed to reach to an agreement in Assam. BJP won. NC and Congress or Congress and PDP failed to reach to an agreement. BJP became the second biggest player in a state where it was virtually absent. Lalu and Nitish succeeded in reaching to an agreement in Bihar. BJP lost.
Congress, SP and RLD met to discuss a possible alliance but the talks failed to bear any fruits which makes UP 2017 – A BJP Vs SP Vs BSP Vs RLD Vs Congress fight. You know who is going to benefit the most out of it.
The second most important reason why BJP looks all set to win the UP 2017 battle is demonetisation. Cash plays an important role in UP Politics. From Musclemen to campaigners, from Audience to organizers, from rural voters to police, from polling officers to local media, cash cleanses the sludge from the system and keeps it running. But demonetisation has created an unprecedented vacuum for the regional parties. This is a distinctive situation when the parties have to bank on the loyalty of their voters and considering the credibility of these parties, it sounds like a laughable prospect.
Demonetisation has also given a major boost to Modi’s credibility as an incorruptible leader. Despite being a risky prospect, the demonetisation exercise has been a huge hit among the masses.
Apart from demonetisation, Surgical Strike will play a very important role in projecting Modi as a tough leader who walks the talks. Whether BJP projects it as their achievement or not, the echoes of Surgical Strikes will reverberate in the battleground of UP 2017. India’s growing global stature, PM’s credentials as a super PM and commendable work done by ministers like Suresh Prabhu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Piyush Goyal will be major factors for the urban voters.
The only issue that has now become BJP’s consistent problem will be the lack of a credible CM face. BJP needs to find a solution to this problem and train the state units to develop leaders at the state levels.
However, this problem will be outweighed by the aforementioned negatives of the other parties in pursuit and the positives of the PM.