UP is India’s most populous state, accounting for about 16.49% of the country’s total population (as of 2011 census), has always drawn attention in India and abroad.
The Vidhan Sabha election of 2022 is no exception. It is always said that the political party that wins Lucknow eventually wins New Delhi, since UP has 80 members in Lok Sabha. One of the main reasons for the BJP winning the Lok Sabha election in 2014 and subsequently retaining it in 2019 is its tally of UP MPs. While the BJP won 71 and 62 seats in Lok Sabha in 2014 and 2019 respectively, the Congress was reduced to two seats in 2014 and confined to a solitary Raibareli seat in 2019.
Congress’s eclipse in recent years at the center is largely due to the massive erosion of its base in UP.
The chart below illustrates the impact of UP in the fortune swing for INC & BJP
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number. of Lok Sabha seats won by the respective parties.
In the Vidhan Sabha election in 2017, the BJP also won an overwhelming majority, winning 312 seats. BJP’s spectacular performance can be seen in the chart below
Whether the BJP is able to match the spectacular performance of the 2022 UP Vidhan Sabha election is a moot point?
Some of the major developments that took place in the UP and in the country after the election of the UP Vidhan Sabha of 2017 will have a profound impact on the UP Vidhan Sabha of 2022, namely
- The emergence of Yogi Adityanath, as a major player in UP.
- Dent in Modiji’s popularity due to recent BJP setback in Bengal’s Vidhan Sabha election and withdrawal of Farm Bills.
- Rise of Akhilesh Yadav as undisputed leader of Samajwadi Dal and subsequent consolidation of non-Yadav OBC votes under his leadership.
- Mayawati’s popularity among Dalits and her ability to assemble a rainbow coalition of Brahmins, Dalits and Muslims.
- Increased poverty and unemployment, due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
- Mishandling of Covid pandemic situation by Yogi administration in 2021.
- Swing of Muslim votes between Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.
- Unity among Jats and Muslims mainly in western UP, due to prolonged agricultural unrest
The emergence of Yogi Adityanath, as a major player in the UP, is the most important factor in UP politics today. In the last Vidhan Sabha election, the BJP had not announced any chief ministerial face and it is needless to mention that the landslide victory of the BJP in the Vidhan Sabha election in 2017 was solely due to the charismatic leadership of Modiji and the astute micro-management of the election by Amit Chah.
After the election, Yogi Adityanath, the ardent Hindutva supporter and MP for Gorakhpur appeared like a dark horse and catapulted to the post of Chief Minister. Yogi Adityanath not only broke Mayawati’s record of continuously ruling UP for 4 years and 307 days, but can also surpass Akhilesh’s record of continuously ruling UP for 5 years and 4 days.
However, his tenure was strewn with pitfalls. While Yogi takes credit for initiating the construction of Bhavya Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and the rejuvenation of Kashi Viswanath Mandir, and also for implementing various development programs like construction of highways, airports and medical schools and for the improvement of law and order, putting the gangsters behind bars, but its distractors claim that the whole operation against the gangsters was carried out in a very selective way.
It is also alleged that the administration is run by Yogi with the help of favored bureaucrats, largely drawn from the upper caste Hindu community, ignoring even his cabinet ministers. The handling of the pandemic situation by Yogi Govt. in 2021, showed the administration in a bad light. The bodies floating in the rivers that run through UP had also grabbed national headlines.
This is why a multitude of resignations took place immediately after the announcement of the election dates, mainly by the leaders of various castes of the OBC, who flocked to the BJP before the last election of Vidhan Sabha, to join the bandwagon of Akhilesh Yadav. Akhilesh has now consolidated his position not only in Samajwadi Dal but also among non-Yadav OBC leaders.
The protracted agricultural unrest has also restored the traditional unity between the Jats and Muslims in western UP, which was seriously shaken due to the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 and could go in favor of the SP&RLD Combine . Mayawati, the Dalit Tsarina, has been a formidable political force in the UP since 1993 and garnered 22.23% of the vote in the Vidhan Sabha election in 2017, despite the Modi wave.
She had not only withered many political storms in the past and can also recreate the magic of 2007. Whether she will emerge as King Maker or Queen in her rights is a matter of such intense speculation.
The dice are already cast. Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav decided to contest the election of Vidhan Sabha for the first time.
Given that no UP Chief Minister has had two consecutive terms since 1985, will Yogi Adityanath be able to break the jinx and continue to reach or better Sampoornananda’s record (1954-1960) to govern PU continuously for more than 5 years and 344 days?
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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