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Churning in UP

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  20 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

If there is one sea change in the perspective of political parties around the world post the election of Dold Trump as US President, it is that the core electorate of a party is the king. Like the customer is to a business entity, the core electorate is sought to be kept happy from the very onset by the party installed in power. The practice of building bridges and reaching out to rival votebanks — to smoothen the way to government formation after a no-holds-barred, divisive campaign — is being given the go by. Thus it is that the Sangh Parivar seems to have taken a leaf straight out of the Trump administration by anointing Yogi Adityath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. A section of political observers see in this move the broad contours of the BJP’s gameplan for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Considering that Yogi Adityath has been a strident Hindutva votary with little administrative experience, pundits believe the stage is now set for relentless saffron pressure to keep India’s largest state in permanently polarised mode. This in turn means that development there will take a back seat to aggressive identity politics based on religion, these pundits fear. But all this is par for the course, when we consider how the BJP demolished strongholds of rival parties everywhere in UP. It has maged to build up powerful bases in eastern and central UP as well, cobbling up a formidable coalition of forward castes, non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav dalits. Building on the 71 (out of 80) parliamentary seats won in UP in 2012, the BJP has maged to turn the entire state saffron with nearly 40 percent of the vote and 77 percent of assembly seats, a steamroller majority of 312 out of 403 seats. If it now has to consolidate its hold in all corners of the state, the BJP can rely less on development in next two years (given the rrow margins for the country’s economy at present) than its tried and tested Hindutva politics. So the party’s new UP chief minister, a Thakur of Rajput ancestry, will remain central to this scheme of things — though he will have an OBC deputy CM in Keshav Prasad Maurya as well as a Brahmin deputy CM in Dinesh Sharma.
How this triumvirate ensures good governce in UP in the coming days will be crucial to Prime Minister Modi filly getting an inside track into the state after Samajwadi Party rule; some pro-poor policies and craftily targeted packages to satisfy group aspirations are now widely expected, though generating employment in significant degree will be a tough call. In support of Yogi Adityath, it is being said that he is being justly rewarded for propelling his party in making vast inroads in eastern UP as its star campaigner, that he has shown application in five consecutive terms as MP from Gorakhpur, that he is against corruption and anti-mafia, that he is a workaholic with commitment to public welfare along the same line as Prime Minister rendra Modi himself. He is being projected to do a Gujarat in UP with the twin plank of development and opportunities for all, while avoiding all ‘appeasement politics’. But as Mahant of the influential Gorakhth Mutt, Yogi Adityath in the past has shown himself to be his own man, avoiding BJP functions, and known to have run-ins with the party central leadership for refusing tickets to his candidates. In fact, his youth brigade Hindu Yuva Vahini, made up of diehard followers, had even threatened to put up its own candidates against official BJP candidates. He is expected to mellow down due to compulsions of administering a vast and complicated state, but it is more probable that he will continue to build on his majoritarian agenda, with the Ayodhya Ram Mandir plank also likely to figure at some stage in the next 2-3 years. With efforts to strengthen BJP’s organisatiol base in areas like Rohilkhand, Doab and Purvanchal still a work in progress, there could be more rhetoric in store. For women voters who are said to be behind the push in overall voter participation in UP this time to over 61 percent, there may be little in store, unlike in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar. As for Muslims making up 19 percent of the UP electorate, these are testing times with their representation in the assembly down to around 6 percent and just one Muslim face in the new ministry. The political churning in the country’s largest state will continue in the near future; how it effects politics at the Centre will be of importance to other states.

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