Before the Uttar Pradesh by-elections, the Opposition targeted the Yogi Adityanath government and threw allegations of casteism at it. The Hathras case also gave them an opportunity to fiercely attack the state government. The Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress felt that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can be pushed back.
However, the election results have shown how their strategies have failed miserably. The BJP won 6 seats out of 7 with a huge margin, which means that the Opposition fell flat in these bypolls. Thus, it might be appropriate to say, “If it is Yogi, it is possible.”
This victory can be seen as the triumph of the policies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In addition to this, the vote difference can be considered the people’s answer to the anti-national and anti-social conspiracies of the Opposition. Those who were calling this by-elections the semi-final of the Assembly election for 2022 are now looking the other way because the people have emphatically supported the slogan of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.
Senior BJP leader and UP’s cabinet minister Mahendra Pratap Singh has given credit for the victory to the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Singh said, “The public has approved the policies and the work of Modi-Yogi once again.” While slamming the Opposition, he said, “The Opposition has been defeated because of their negative thinking and politics. People have rejected them.”
The vote percentage of the SP, BSP and Congress underlines that electorates have eliminated the status of the Opposition. For the Bangarmau seat, the BJP got more than 40 per cent of the votes, while SP got around 20 per cent, Congress got 22 and BSP only 10 per cent of the votes. In Bulandshahar, the BSP got 33 per cent votes and the Congress got only 5 per cent, against BJP’s 44 per cent votes. In Deoria, the BJP got more than 40 per cent votes, while the SP got 28, BSP got 12 and Congress got 2 per cent votes. In Ghatampur, the SP got 14, Congress 23 and BSP 21 per cent votes, in comparison to the BJP’s 39 per cent votes. In Naugawan Sadat, the BJP got 42 per cent votes, while SP got 34, BSP got 18 and Congress got only 2 per cent votes. In Tundela, the SP got 30 per cent votes and the BSP got just 22 per cent against the BJP’s vote share of more than 40 per cent. All this is to reiterate that the people of the state have once again rejected the Opposition.
The BJP stayed a step ahead by keeping a close eye on each seat. Everyone’s role was decided, from the top leadership to the ground level worker. BJP leaders worked by planning their moves. The Chief Minister, the two Deputy CMs, the state president and all other BJP office bearers camped in the seats. BJP leaders of nearby districts along with leaders of each religious group and caste held corner meetings and campaigned door to door. This is the strategy which worked.
If we analyse the performance of the Opposition, we find that all parties have their own weaknesses. Despite all its tricks, the Congress scored a zero. It somehow managed to stand in second place in the Bangarmau and Ghatampur seats, where it was defeated with a margin of 31,000 and 2,400 respectively. In other seats, its presence was negligible. Meanwhile, the SP, which has been making tall claims, barely managed to save the Malhani constituency. The margin of victory was around 5,000 votes. The SP stood at number two on three seats. It lost Deoria constituency by more than 20,000 votes. The SP also lost the Naugavan Sadat seat with a margin of 16,000 votes. It was in a bad situation in Tundla too. Hence, the voters proved that the BJP’s magic is intact in UP, made clear by the party defeating the SP by 18,000 votes.
The SP initially claimed that it would win 3 out of 4 seats but this didn’t happen. The SP could win only the Malhani seat. The reason behind the victory of SP candidate Lucky Yadav was not the party’s charisma, but sympathy for his father, Parasnath Yadav. In the Assembly election of 2017 too, the SP had won the Malhani seat. According to political experts, the reason for the party’s defeat this time is the mistake the party made in candidate selection and the aloofness of the party president, Akhilesh Yadav, towards the bypolls.
Now, the pertinent question is whether Akhilesh will learn a lesson from this defeat. If the SP wants to stop the juggernaut of the BJP in the 2022 Assembly election, then, first of all, it should think about renewing the party organisation. It should bring dedicated workers to the forefront and sideline inactive office bearers at the district level. Candidates should also be finalised based on the feedback of ground-level workers rather than the advice of the leaders who sit in AC rooms.
As far as BSP is concerned, the elephant seems to have been marginalised in the politics of Uttar Pradesh. BSP candidates have failed to prove the party’s presence. The BSP didn’t do anything except file a nomination. And the party does not mind getting a zero too. In 2014, BSP supremo Mayawati had scored a zero and the same story was repeated this time. The bypolls jolted Mayawati into action, leading her to announce that they will teach a lesson to the SP, but the party was not seen as a strong competitor on any of seven seats.
Mayawati had also said that BSP could support BJP to teach SP a lesson, although BJP did not show any interest in allying with her. On the other hand, this statement adversely affected her vote share too. Mayawati also didn’t campaign in any of the seven seats. Except for BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, no senior leaders campaigned on the ground. Mayawati could have made a favourable situation by holding one public meeting in each seat. Now, amid so many questions, the most important one is how she will compete in the UP Assembly election in 2022.
The Opposition parties targeted the BJP government on several issues during these by-elections. Before the election, there were sharp attacks on the government on issues of law and order. The Opposition ran a campaign to prove that the Yogi government is anti-Dalit and anti-Brahmin, but they failed to dent the public’s support for the Yogi government. The people have expressed complete faith in Yogi’s leadership once again, and made it evident that the energy of the BJP has had a boost in Uttar Pradesh.