By Murshid Kamal for Twocircles.net
Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. In the triumphant camp, Prime Minister Modi is being credited for BJP’s splendid performance in Uttar Pradesh Assembly election and all his actions and statement are being glorified not only by his supporters but also by his harsh detractors, some of his very similar statements which failed him during Bihar election. On the other side, as expected, the blame game is in full swing.
The readers may recall 2015 Bihar Assembly election where the BJP did all that it could do to polarise the voters on religious line by highlighting the cow slaughter and other sensitive issues. BJP leaders like Giriraj Kishore took up the job of spewing venom against Muslims. BJP President kept saying in all the election rallies that the crackers will be burst in Pakistan if they lose the election. Despite their entire outburst to unite Hindu voters, they failed miserably. So what went wrong in UP which went right in Bihar? The answer does not lie in rocket science or arithmetic.
The answer is very simple and anybody’s guess. The arrogant and imprudent leadership of SP & BSP did not learn a lesson from 2014 and Bihar Assembly election. It’s not that they could not read writings on the wall. RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav advised the key players of UP politics soon after the Bihar election and urged them to forge an alliance to challenge the growing popularity of the BJP. But the romanticism and the fascination of ruling the state as an absolute leader kept them at a distance from each other. The result was very much on an expected line. More than 60% of non-BJP votes got divided and BJP rode on less than 40% popular vote share to win a thumping majority in the state.
A close look at constituency-wise vote share indicates, had there been a Bihar-like grand alliance in the state, the result would have been reversed and BJP would have been rooted out in the state. The so-called champions of secularism did not even bother to seriously think about a Bihar-like alliance to stop the march of Fascism. Those who are blaming Muslim leadership- political or religious-do not have much substantial evidence of division of Muslim votes, instead it was the general secular vote which got divided between Samajwadi and BSP. Not more than 10 seats were lost to the BJP because of two Muslim candidates of major parties were contesting against each other. And yes, a couple of them was lost due to the presence of AIMIM on some of the seats. So what? BJP also lost some seats by a narrow margin to Muslim candidates due to the consumption of Hindu votes by rebel Hindu candidate. This happens in an electoral democracy.
As for the Muslim voters in general, they did their best to do tactical voting like 2012 assembly election, but the voters’ calculation and wisdom cannot always be accurate and their integrity cannot be questioned. Asaduddin Owaisi restricted himself to the limited number of seats where his party was contesting. Ulema Council & Peace Party had influence in small pockets and were far from making any state-wise political impacts to be blamed for the counter polarisation. So why to be swayed away by the media narrative of Muslim vote division & blame the Muslim leadership for the devastation?
Now, what next? Not to be disheartened, of course. All’s not lost. We can still put up a strong fight against the BJP and its allies in 2019 General election. Two completely differing example of UP & Bihar election result provides an opportunity for the non-BJP political parties to decide between sinking or swimming option. BJP will be banking on its 30% vote share which despite all the mobilisation, propaganda, media management and so-called wave will not cross 35- 40%. If non-BJP votes are consolidated especially in these two Indian states by forging a grand alliance, which seems very likely and pragmatic in the current circumstances, it will do the magic and the non-BJP government at the centre can easily be formed. But until then, stop blaming the Muslims for what happened in UP.