BJP pulls through UP, Uttarkhand; pushes through Goa and Manipur

By Vijay Badhwar

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) astounding victory, especially in Uttar Pradesh, was remarkable given the large Muslim vote in the state – 14-18 per cent – which traditionally goes en bloc to parties other than the BJP. It swept the state with 312 seats, largest ever, that confounded political pundits even within the BJP who were, no doubt, flabbergasted with the outcome Modi wave brought.

BJP also won in its own right in Uttarkhand, deposing chief minister Harish Rawat who contested in two constituencies and lost in both. BJP won 57 seats opposed to Congress’ 11, two others going to independents.

BJP, however, elbowed its way in Goa and Manipur where it wasn’t the party with the largest number of seats. In Manipur, Congress won 28 seats compared to BJP’s 21, and in Goa they won 17 and 13 respectively, but with the help of independents and some complacency on the part of Congress, BJP claimed its right to form the governments with the help of independents.

In Punjab, voters revolted against the BJP’s unholy alliance with Akali Dal and thrashed them to a third place even behind Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) 20 seats. The Congress made a resolute comeback in Punjab with a thumping majority (77 seats) after eight years of alleged widespread corruption and mismanagement in the state.

All these BJP wins without declared leaders in any of the states was a premeditated strategy by the party that pitted the minnows against the giant de facto leader none other than Narendra Modi. They had no chance.

Not that the strategy is fail proof. It was criticised in the past when BJP lost the state election in Bihar last year. But it worked this time as BJP made gains in all states barring Punjab where its alliance with the Akali Dal was clearly unprincipled.

In UP, the two major contenders – Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – divided the Muslim vote that benefitted the BJP. There have also been recent divisions within the SP, a falling out between the father and son, that would have directed a major proportion of their vote towards the BJP. Their alliance too with the Congress, that is now a tired party with a heir but not a leader, fell flat as the SP handed over 104 constituencies to Congress who simply could not match the energy of BJP campaigning.

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