he Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to emerge as the proverbial dark horse in the just concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. For many in the BJP, the sudden surge in the fortunes of the party, which had remained content with just 51 seats in the 2007 Assembly elections, is a pleasant shock, while for some it is a retribution of sorts.The factors that have led to this surge are different in different parts of the state, but together they have given the party leaders a reason for celebration.
In the east, known as Purvanchal, the BJP seems to have benefited from the presence of the Peace Party, which polarised Muslim votes to an extent, leading to the counter polarisation of votes in the BJP’s favour.
“The Peace Party polarised 10,000-15,000 Muslim votes (in different seats) in its favour, which then led to a reaction among Hindus, thus benefiting the BJP. Besides, the Muslim vote in Purvanchal has got split among the Peace Party, Samajwadi Party, the Congress and even the BSP, allowing the BJP an easy win in many seats,” said Dr Harsh Shahi, a political analyst.
Interestingly, the BJP, this time, did not go overboard on the Hindutva factor and even the normally abrasive Mahant Yogi Adityanath did not spew communal venom during the elections. The BJP gained without even making an effort.
In Bundelkhand, the party has gained mainly because of a man everyone loved to hate, Babu Singh Kushwaha. He silently campaigned for the BJP in Bundelkhand and his meetings were as large — if not larger — as Mayawati’s in some places. The former BSP minister successfully polarised the OBC votes in favour of the BJP and his efforts are sure to ensure greater returns for the party in the region.
In Central Uttar Pradesh, it was two Union ministers, Salman Khurshid and Beni Prasad Varma, who helped the BJP regain lost ground when they pushed the Muslim reservation issue beyond a point and drove the OBCs away from the Congress.
“When the two ministers said that they were ready to be hanged by the Election Commission for violation of the model code of conduct, the OBCs started saying that the Congress needed the Muslims more than it needed the OBCs. The wave turned against us in just two days,” said a local Congress leader from Farukkhabad.
In Western Uttar Pradesh, it is the Jats who are helping the BJP gain ground. The Jat community is upset with the Congress for not including them in the Central OBC list. The Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarakshan Samiti has given a call to boycott the Congress. The alliance between the Congress and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal has not gone down well with the community. Since the Samajwadi Party is on a weak wicket in Western UP, it is the BJP which is bound to get the advantage of this Jat resentment with the Congress.
“We agree it is a multiplicity of factors that are helping us make major gains in UP. There is no denying the fact that the party and its leaders have not made any efforts for this. If we play our cards well in the post-poll scenario and refuse a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party, we can hope for bigger gains in the Lok Sabha elections that could be held earlier than scheduled,” said a senior BJP leader while campaigning in the state.