The party which had been accused of Babri Masjid demolition; the party which fielded no Muslim candidate in the assembly poll; the party tagged as a Brahman-Baniya party, has registered a landslide victory in the 2017 UP Assembly elections, grabbing 312 seats alone and 325 of 403-seats with its allies.
The historic win has ended BJP’s 15-year long drought in the state. The saffron left its imprint on almost every constituency. It made a huge dent in the congress strongholds of Amethi and Rae Bareli, and Mulayam Singh Yadav's home turf, Etawah.
Poster Boy Modi
The Modi effect has yet again worked for the party. In a caste obsessed state like UP, declaring any candidate could have spoiled the caste equation. Making Modi the poster boy in the Bihar assembly election did not work, as the opposition successfully painted him as a bahari (an outsider). But, Varanasi MP Modi was no outsider in UP.
PM Modi campaigned in Varanasi for three consecutive days. He addressed two public meetings and held two massive road shows which resulted in pocketing all the 8-seats in Varanasi.
The Anti-Incumbency Factor
The public dissatisfaction with the incumbent state government was enough to persuade voters not to vote for the same this time. The Samajwadi Party’s internal feud and stitching an alliance with the Congress did not go down well with the voters. The Congress won just 7 of 105-seats it contested.
The non-Yadav and non-Jatav consolidation coupled with upper caste votes ensured a thumping majority for BJP. It distributed nearly 140 tickets to OBC candidates, allotting only eight seats to Yadavs.Among the 84 seats for Dalits, the party allocated 64 to non-Jatav Dalits. Also, it gave tickets to former MLAS of rival parties. As people were acquainted with these leaders, this move helped in retaining their votes.
Keshav Prasad Maurya was declared the state party head to target the OBC vote bank. With an eye on Kurmi and Rajbhar vote bank, an alliance was stitched with Apna Dal and Bharatiya Samaj Party.
Polarisation Of Votes
The BJP also secured victory in Muslim-dominated areas, the reason being polarization. In Rohilkhand region, with the highest proportion of Muslim voters as compared to others in UP, it won 50 of 67 seats. The confusion in voters to choose between SP and BSP resulted in the division of votes and ensured a win for the BJP. Nowhere is this more obvious than Meerapur, the assembly constituency in Muzaffarnagar, which was the epicenter of the 2013 communal riots, was won by BJP.
The party played the demonetization card very wisely, using it to showcase that it has taken steps to bring back ‘kala dhan’. Parivartan and vikas were chosen as the campaigning agendas, which encompassed every caste and class. It showed the report cards of pro-poor schemes like Ujjwala, and promised farm loan waivers and interest-free loans to attract voters.