“BJP does not do caste politics,” said Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at ‘Vikas Utsav’, an event organized at Lucknow on March 19 to mark the completion of four-and-a-half years of BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. However, he did not also miss the chance to mention Hindu religious centres like Ayodhya and Mathura for criticizing the opposition for avoiding going there out of fear of getting tagged as communal. “But the BJP … organized events that marked the religious and cultural identity of the places,” he said.
These two statements made at a time when the Legislative Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh were only a few months away were extremely significant. The reference of caste politics of the opposition with an effort of superimposition of the ‘fear of communal tag’ on them while drumming up BJP’s ‘religious and cultural identity’ plank around Hindu religious places are clear indication that the state politics may witness polarization on caste and communal lines.
Yogi Adityanath tried to show that he was confident of his returning to power in the state, and asserted that the BJP was poised to return to office by winning no less than 350 seats in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly election due early next year.
His assertion has come only after a fortnight of the poll prediction of ABP-CVoter-IANS survey in which BJP’s return to power was predicted, but with considerably reduced seats for NDA from 325 seat in 2017 to 263 in 2022 Vidhan Sabha election.
He actually needed to assert his claims, first to boost up the morale of the BJP’s rank and file, and secondly to conceal his own panic by asserting on Hindutva in reference to Ayodhya and Mathura.
The survey had predicted loss of 62 seats for NDA, though with an increase of BJP’s vote share by 0.4 per cent. To get 350 seats this time, i.e. 25 seats more than in 2017, the BJP will need to substantially increase its vote percentage from 41 per cent that the party had polled in the last assembly election, which cannot be done without polarization of Hindu votes in favour. Hence the raising of the pitch for Hindutva.
Not only Yogi, but the whole BJP and its alliance partners seem to be panic stricken on the prospect of losing its vote share on account of general dissatisfaction among all the classes of people in the state against the perceived misrule with arrogance and impudence of the Yogi government.
Farmers’ agitation in Western Uttar Pradesh has shaken the confidence of many of the NDA leaders who have openly been supporting the farmer’s cause, for example Apna Dal and BJP MP Varun Gandhi. Farmers are on their Mission 2022 to unseat BJP from power, while in the 2017 election they had overwhelmingly supported the BJP. Any decrease in vote share would thus be devastating for the BJP.
One real threat to BJP is ‘social engineering’ by some opposition parties, and Yogi Adityanath who has already sensed it. He even said during the ‘Vikas Utsav’, “BJP worked to bring social harmony to society. Governments before the BJP did nothing for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the backward class. The BJP government implemented many public welfare schemes realising the dreams of Babasaheb Ambedkar. These schemes brought about a radical change in the standard of living of the underprivileged.”
Meanwhile, the Congress under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi has reached out to the state’s dissatisfied people, especially the farmers. The party’s rank and file are in an upbeat mood.
The energized Congress, by continuing to work hard and making even seatwise tactical alliance with other opposition political parties is in a position to mount a huge challenge to the BJP in the state.
Views are personal