The BJP seems set for another stint in power in UP where it had formed government with a record number of seats last time. Even pre-poll surveys appear to be favourable for the party.
The Bhartiya Janata Party is pulling out all stops to retain its hold on Uttar Pradesh, country’s most populous state which is going to the polls early next year. As union home minister Amit Shah has rightly said a victory in UP will open the doors to 2024 for his party. His statement underlines the electoral significance of this political bellwether state.
From all indications the BJP seems set for another stint in power in UP where it had formed government with a record number of seats last time. Even pre-poll surveys appear to be favourable for the party even though they suggest that party’s margin victory may get reduced this time. The hard work of chief minister Yogi Adityanath and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the sitting MP from Varanasi, are expected to do the trick for the saffron party.
In terms of numbers the BJP goes into the poll battle from a position of strength. It had secured a near-50 percent vote share in the 2019 parliamentary elections in UP. In the last five years that Yogi has been in power the state has faced several challenges including the wave of COVID-19 pandemic but it has successfully overcome them all.
There are indications that the opposition which was decimated in 2017 and 2019 has gained some of the lost ground but the advantage still remains with the BJP. Notwithstanding the fact that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party has emerged as the main challenger to the BJP, the overall public opinion continues to favour the saffron party.
One of the most important factors working in favour of the BJP is its unmatched election management skills. Its election machinery keeps working round the year with a strategy ready in advance for each poll-bound state. There is no denying that currently it is the most dominant political force in the country, particularly in the heartland states.
In UP its rise has been spectacular. After being pushed to the margins in the decade between 2002 and 2012, it scripted a great comeback in 2014. Out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state it bagged a whopping 71 while its ally Apna Dal won two. BJP’s vote share in the state grew from 17.5 percent votes in 2009 to a massive 42.63 percent votes in 2014.
It recorded a similar upward swing in votes in 2017 with its vote share jumping from 15 percent (in 2012 assembly polls) to 39.67 percent. The party formed the government with a brute majority winning 312 out of 403 seats in the state assembly and Yogi Adityanath, a known hardliner, was anointed as the chief minister of the state.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections – where UP with 80 seats held the key to Modi’s re-election as the prime minister – the BJP secured a vote share of 49.97 percent though its overall seat tally got slightly reduced primarily due the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which prevented a split of votes between the two major opposition parties.
The BJP is, thus, on a firm ground in UP and should have little problem retaining its hold on the country’s most populous state.