The UP polls result shows the failure of strategy followed by the non-BJP parties, especially the Congress, SP and the BSP to soft-pedal secularism and underplay the minority card.
Hina Khan | TwoCircles.net
UTTAR PRADESH — The stunning saffron surge on Thursday proved political pundits, who believed that UP Assembly election 2022 in Uttar Pradesh was primarily about castes and not about the larger communal polarisation, wrong.
From ‘muscular Hindutva nationalism’ highlighting how the ‘green virus’ was a threat to security with CM Yogi going on record saying that it was a 80:20 election (referring to Hindu-Muslim population ratio) and slogans of “Ali vs Bajrangbali”, BJP leaders used the narrative to arouse religious passions. The strategy seems to have paid off. “What we are witnessing is a reverse of 1990’s poll verdict when VP Singh’s Mandal (reservation) card had triumphed over ‘Kamandal’, an attempt by LK Advani, who embarked on a ‘Rath Yatra’ in an attempt to polarise the electorate on religious lines,” Athar Hussein, director of Centre for Objective Research and Development, told TwoCircles.net.
What has also failed is the strategy adopted by the non-BJP parties, especially the Congress, SP and the BSP to soft-pedal secularism, underplay the minority card by keeping Muslims at bay to avoid a Hindu backlash. “Muslim Vote Bank is a red herring which is used to consolidate Hindu votes behind BJP. And the presence of parties like AIMIM, which have no base in UP only helps in raising the communal pitch,” said Bobby Naqvi, former editor of Gulf News. He said that the vilification and stereotyping of the community as a ‘vote bank’ led to their increasing marginalisation and has ended up creating a Hindu consolidation in favour of the BJP.
But behind the silence, there is a deep churning, a sense of high anxiety, even fear, that has gripped the minority community over the BJP storming back to power. Are we going to witness another ‘five years of exclusion and isolation’ is the fear in the minds of Muslims. This for the first time in 35 years that UP has re-elected a sitting chief minister – the pro-incumbency is an indication that to the general voter in the plains of Uttar Pradesh, bijli, paani, roti, rozgar, or any other such mundane things, are irrelevant. “If the BJP can win all 8 seats from the Lakhimpur Kheri area where farmers were mowed down by an SUV of a son of Union Minister of the BJP is there even any point in campaigning on issues? said Shilpa Mathur, who runs an NGO. Agreed Athar.
No need for Priyanka and Rahul visiting Hathras, Lakhimpur Kheri, Unnao and standing with every oppressed person. The country has given a clear answer. They don’t care about all this anymore. The fact that they won 33,000 votes in Hathras leaves one numb! The election results are a reminder that people are driving change, not political parties. The Opposition should learn to be around for people all through the five years and not just as an opportunity in the last six months before the polls to grab power, he said.
Samajwadi Party and the RLD alliance did work in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat- three districts that directly participated in the farmers’ movement accounting for 12 assembly seats. BJP won only three of the 12. What is more, some of the key Hindutva poster boys of west UP lost convincingly. Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana, Umesh Malik, Late Babu Hukum Singh (his daughter Mriganka Singh contested from Kairana)- all were among the key accused in the 2013 riots. All of them lost. But as the final results show the Samajwadi Party failed to carry forward this momentum in the rest of the phases.