Bhartiya Janata Party has completely dominated 2022 assembly elections by clearly winning Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur besides falling one short of simple majority in Goa which will lay rock-hard foundation for 2024 parliamentary polls to ensure retention of the power at the centre for 3rd time in a row which will be a historic feat.
Aam Aadmi Party Tsunami in Punjab
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had a massive win in Punjab, one of the most progressive states in India, which may strengthen and help it in retaining power in Delhi assembly elections.
AAP, as a regional party, has won a second important state which clears the deck to position itself as one of the contenders at national level and the party may plan to project Arvind Kejriwal as an acceptable face of combined opposition to take on BJP in 2024 parliamentary polls.
AAP has entered Goa also which shows its ambition to expand to other states. The spectacular victory in Punjab, a border state, could encourage Kejriwal to focus on Gujarat which is going for polls in Nov. 2022.
AAP has already made considerable gains in the civic elections in Gandhinagar and Surat last year which will encourage the party cadres. But it will be an uphill task for AAP to handle corruption, menace of drugs and financial distress besides tall promises made by Kejriwal during the election.
Congress decimated in five states
Congress party has been decimated in all five states and lost Punjab thereby squeezing it to Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the entire country though it is still a coalition partner in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand.
Modi’s popularity is intact
Notwithstanding the personal popularity of Prime Minister Narender Modi, a deadly and lethal combination of three ingredients comprising Vikas (development), Kamandal (social engineering) and a mandatory, low scale dose of Hindutva (religion), adopted by Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls did the trick and helped Yogi Adityanath government to neutralise the anti Incumbency factor to emerge as victorious though with a slightly reduced number of seats.
Not enough to displace BJP
Samajvadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav did emerge as a strong contender of power in UP and gave tough fight to BJP but he did not have the killer instinct to convince the voters about his party’s capacity to become a strong alternative to BJP, and defeat it in the elections.
Secondly, he was up against BJP which was loaded with well oiled machinery of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), vast resources, and dedicated party cadres.
Thirdly, SP leaders accuse Mayawati of playing ‘spoilsport’, conniving with BJP, which will end her dream of ever winning assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Fourthly, experts say that crowds attracted by Akhilesh did not vote for his party which means hype was deceptive.
Finally, SP lost some ground in Yadavas dominated constituencies though Akhlilesh did snatch dozens of seats from BJP thereby increasing his party’s vote share tremendously but not enough to win the required number of seats to form the government.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) headed by Mayawati has been wiped out from Uttar Pradesh and Priyanka Vadra, Congress leader could not improve the fortunes of her party though she attracted big crowds in the rally, but failed to convince them to vote for party which is on continuous slide since past several years.
BJP creates history
The success of BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state and politically considered a ladder to crown in Delhi has placed it in final, and all opposition parties will be constrained to create a joint front to face the ruling party at centre which will be laced with highly motivated party cadres and the ‘Charisma’ of Narender Modi. The Modi-Yogi duo can be credited for creating Pro-Incumbency wave in UP and their efforts were supplemented by union minister Amit Shah’s social engineering, and party cadres’ management by National party president, J.P.Nadda.
Prime Minister’s prestige was at stake in UP which has been protected but reduction in seats must worry BJP which did snatch new seats and registered an upward trend and success in almost all regions of the state. Analysts opine that Modi’s various welfare schemes have done a big wonder as emphasis was given on development and security of common people which did attract the imagination of voters.
Women turn out and support to BJP can be attributed to PM’s scheme like Ujwala Yojna and other projects like cash transfer to each farmer’s family, even an idea of 21 crore members identified under ‘Sharam Cards’ to provide special assistance. An effective delivery system of paying wages of MGNREGA also contributed to party’s victory. PM did bring in some surprise element like planting of bombs on cycles by accused of Ahmadabad blasts, hence warned the voters from SP which has got same election symbol. Modi also cautioned people that red cap should not be trusted and showered praise on Yogi for providing security of life.
Triple Talaq had mobilised Muslim women support in 2019 Lok Sabha polls which was witnessed in this assembly polls also. Modi’s tireless campaigning did contribute in connecting with the voters who do trust him. It was the free ration scheme of the Prime Minister which helped in creating a faith in the minds of the poor who faced the problem of survival during Covid19 period. The election management of Shah and Nadda filled the gaps which yielded positive results. Amit Shah had meticulously planned UP polls. After the West Bengal setback, he had observed last year; “The 2024 Lok Sabha elections that we have to win under Modi ji’s leadership, its foundation will be laid by the Uttar Pradesh 2022 Assembly polls.”
Yogi faces hordes of challenges
Regarding the challenges of Yogi, experts say that he will have to address the monstrous problem of unemployment, prices of essential commodities, promises made to people, improving law and order, taking cases against Mafias to a logical end etc. Yogi has become the first leader in 37 years who will hold on to his post for the second time which is creditable.
Chief Minister has been nicknamed as ‘Buldozer Baba’ who mercilessly took on mafias which earned appreciation from women who voted for BJP in large numbers. Yogi was blamed for poor management of Covid19 especially during the 2nd wave when floating bodies of victims and burial sites on the banks of Ganges had sent a bad signal.
But reports say that a better post pandemic management made the difference to his image. Chief Minister will have to address the burning issues which had been relegated to background as campaigning took a new shape.
BJP’s ascendency in western UP has surprised many as murders of four farmers had created resentment. Yogi did inject polarisation element in the election when he said that it was contest between 80 and 20, but did not bank on it.
Yogi positions himself at number two in BJP
Political observers say that Yogi has become an icon and RSS support makes him claimant to number two position in BJP after Modi who will be 75 in 2026 which might pave his way to the top slot. He hails from a state which is politically most important and relevant, which makes his victory special in national politics.
BSP at its lowest
It is a hard fact that Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party president had resigned to fate prior to jumping in the poll fray, and preferred to play second fiddle to BJP which might have helped in the transfer of her confused supporters to saffron party. It is a bad news for Mayawati that disintegration of BSP support base amongst the Dalits has taken place.
Due to her appreciation of Amit Shah and vice versa during electioneering, inspirational youths of Jatav community constituting 54 percent of the total SC in the state, might have shifted their loyalty to BJP.
Experts feel that perceived erosion of Mayawati’s voter base might raise doubts over the future prospects of BSP as her ascent to power in UP in 2007 was largely due to the anti-incumbency mood against the Samajwadi Party government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav.
But continuous dwindling of faith in her leadership even by core constituency of Jatav voters might make her irrelevant in UP in future.
Even stalwarts not spared
In Punjab, the defeat of sitting chief minister, Charanjit Singh Channi and state president, Navjot Singh Sidhu, besides several senior leaders reflected that people disapproved infighting, inapt handling of Punjab party affairs by high command, maltreatment to two time chief minister, Amrinder Singh - hence opted for change.
Congress is in disarray in Uttarakhand also hence the party has lost badly to BJP and its chief ministerial candidate failed to save his seat. The indecisiveness of high command and demoralisation of party cadres spoiled its chances in Goa and Manipur which will need urgent attention and rectification.
BJP has managed to neutralise anti incumbency factor in Uttrakhand, Goa and Manipur also where Modi’s charisma, committed party cadres, resources, RSS, and development plank worked in favor of the ruling party.
Final take away. According to analysts, after getting scared from BJP’s resounding victory in 2022 assembly elections, which may lay the foundation for yet another success in 2024 lok Sabha polls, the opposition might cobble together to form joint front which will be possible if regional leader like Mamta Banerjee or Kejriwal take logical and broad stand to accept a tall leader at the top, and an existing Pan India party; otherwise results will not be different as witnessed in five assembly elections.
K.S.Tomar is a national columnist and a political analyst
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.