Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 12:42:03

2022 has decided 2024!

By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
Updated: March 23, 2022 11:46 am

The Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Lotus has bloomed in the four States – Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur while Aam Aadami Party’s (AAP) broom swept away opponents in Punjab and the Congress Party-, it seems, may well end up in the history books. While the results are the same as in 2017, the ‘Verdict’ is slightly different. The BJP has won in UP but the margin is not as handsome as it was in 2017. The fact, however, remains that anti-incumbency could not uproot BJP, and the voters have favoured BJP’s Politics of Development – SabkaSath, Sabka Vikas and Sab ka Visvas. Caste, Religion or Region is no more the identity of Indian Politics now.

Unpredictability is a feature of Indian Politics, and this time too, it has thrown up some unexpected results. A number of heavy weights including Harish Rawat (Congress), Navjot Singh Sidhu (Congress), Sukhbir Singh Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal), Charanjit Singh Channi (Congress), Capt. Amarinder Singh (Congress) registered defeat in their turfs.

The Congress Party continues to lose its footprint in India and has lost Punjab. In Uttarakhand it has failed to take the fight with the BJP despite the BJP changing its CM not once but twice. In Manipur and Goa too, the Congress met with the same dismal fate. In UP also, the party’s campaign led by Priyanka Gandhi failed to impress the voters with its share depleting from 7 in 2017 to 1 in 2022, as per the available trends.

The electoral landscape of the country is almost the same as it was before, except Punjab which has flipped from Congress to AAP. But this flip shall certainly have a far-reaching impact on national politics as the vacuum to emerge as the national alternative to the BJP is yet to be filled by any opposition party. Both Congress and AAP are in power in two States each. Although, AAP has firmed up its position as a future potential force, it still has a long way to go. The Party is working to expend itself beyond Punjab and Delhi.

The Mayawati-let-BSP has failed to make a mark in the fifth consecutive election – 2012, 2014, 2017, 2019 and now 2022. The Party, once a major player in UP elections, has been reduced to 0-1 seat this year with a vote share of over 12%.In essence, Mayawati’s BSP has been reduced to a Party that cuts into the votes of SP candidates. The Samajwadi Party (SP) from a dismal show in 2017has managed to pull itself to a fighting performance by winning over nearly thrice the number of seats Akhilesh had won in 2017 when he contested in alliance with Congress. The result has set the stage for SP to emerge as a solid alternative force in UP. In the previous elections, SP’s decision to contest with Congress (in 2017 assembly election) and BSP (in 2019 Lok Sabha election) failed to impress the voter.

With this win, Yogi has managed a break of 37year jinx since the State had not-re-elected a sitting Chief-Minister since 1985. In 2022, Yogi Adityanath was the clear-cut choice and the face of BJP’s campaign. Leading the BJP to a historic victory in UP will come as a shot in the arm for Yogi, who is considered one of the most popular faces in the BJP. BJP has created a history in Uttarakhand also by winning a consecutive term in a State which alternates between Congress and BJP. In the hill State of Uttarakhand, power has changed hands every five Year since its formation in 2001. The Lok Sabha elections just two years ahead, the results augur well for BJP. With another victory in the numerically crucial State, the BJP will find itself on a strong – footing as it gears up for the ensuing national poll. UP is the top bellwether State in India vis-à-vis national polls and another big victory in the State bodes well for the BJP for its third straight term in Lok Sabha.

As usual, the BJP succeeded in reaping rich dividends in UP and Uttarakhand by banking on Prime Minister Modi’s popularity and national appeal. The results clearly indicate that PM Modi’s ability to pull crowds and overall appeal is still the most powerful ammo in BJP’s arsenal.

Congress Party’s dismal show in the election shows that the Gandhis have failed to provide the necessary ballast to the Congress. Moreover, another reason for worry is that Congress does not have an alternative national level leader. The election’s explicit prediction that the Congress Party may well end up in history books, shall change into truth.

The 2022 were focused on Yogi’s governance in the last five Years. In all their rallies, Modi and Shah emphasized as to how Yogi’s government either sent criminals behind bars or got them eliminated ensuring a State free of crime. They targeted Akhilesh Yadav rightly by referring to “Mafiawad”, “Gundagardi” by “Lal Topiwallahas” and appeasement of one community (Muslims). As a result, the voters’ choice fell in favour of BJP, ignoring SP, BSP and Congress. People were convinced that it was necessary to bring the incumbent government back to power, may be solely on the issue of law and order; their argument being that no government can remove problems like inflation and unemployment completely. Yogi’s comments like “garmithandakardoonga” or “bulldozer chalega” were widely seen as references to operations on criminals.

The election has hit the hopes of SP resurgence. Now, taking up issues against the government and at the same time keeping the party alive will be a challenge for Akhilesh and the SP. The BSP’s vote share has also fallen from 22% to 12%, the worst performance for the party, that had won with a majority in 2007. The BSP seems to have lost its hold on its key vote-bank of Jatavs, who have gone to BSP like many other Dalit castes. 2022 elections have shown that identity cannot be a substitute for governance in politics. Under Channi’s leadership, the Congress hoped to beat anti-incumbency with his Dalit Sikh identity, but AAP’s victory in Punjab has altogether rejected this. The election has also strengthened the argument that Mandal politics cannot pose a challenge to the BJP in UP and Bihar. Further, Manipur victory has made BJP stronger in the North-East also.

These elections have taken place at a time of significant economic crises due to pandemic distress. The BJP’s return to power is an approval of its policies such as ban on cattle slaughter in UP.It has underlined the need for the BJP to exercise restraint on the economic distress per se – the rising inflation; this otherwise may hoodwink BJP’s going forward. From 21 seats in 2017 when it was behind the Congress (27) and needed to cobble up an alliance with smaller parties to form the government, the BJP is set to do so by itself now. Its poll planks for peace, development and stability – a stark contrast to the tumultuous 15year congress regime – seem to have struck a chord with voters. The election results confirm what the Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating the Party workers for the victory said “The 2024 general election can be glimpsed in the result of the 2022 UP election” i.e., BJP’s return to power in almost all the States and at the centre.

 

 

By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal

(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)

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