The sweet victory of BJP in the state elections 2022 left a sour and bitter defeat for the sceptics who were thumping their chests claiming BJP would emerge as one of the biggest losers.
The mandate and voters’ faith swept away the illusions created by the mainstream media. The ‘know-it-all’ brigade is cornered now as they are defeated in their own game. It must have been an eye-opening experience for them. The narrative and the hype they built to belittle BJP failed miserably. The voters are politically aware and the paradigm of politics have changed.
Factors like caste and class alone cannot decide the election wave now, a political party needs to bring resonating and inclusive issues which hold substance. BJP has nailed this part with their agenda of ‘Development for all’ which is bearing them fruits to a certain extent.
BJP’s performance bulldozing the narrative
Leftists and established media houses predicted how BJP is fighting a losing battle. They might have realised how far are they from the ground reality.
There were speculations and buzz that how BJP was at risk of losing UP. Sceptics banked upon the so-called power tussle between CM Yogi and the top leadership of BJP (factionalism), Hindu- Muslim trope, alleging BJP of polarising the socio-political ecosystem, playing the trump card of Hindutva, imposing majoritarianism and sidelining minorities, misusing Lakhimpur Kheri incident by the opposition, farm laws and PM Modi losing his edge etc. Well, the verdict is in front of us and the rest is history.
Several political experts, taking a cue from the huge crowds at SP leader Akhilesh Yadav’s campaign rallies and factoring in the disappointment of voters over unemployment, price rise and the dismal COVID management in the state, most notably in the deadly second wave of the pandemic, had predicted the BJP to fare badly this time. Trends on counting day, however, show that the party has turned the public support in its favour.
This sleeper hit episode of BJP might have raised some eyebrows. Despite a strong anti-incumbency how BJP won? It's simple because they synergised their strategies of development and core tenets of their ideology according to the need of the hour. Focus on welfare, safety and regional growth helped BJP to overcome the scepticisms. Around 44 central schemes ensuring free ration, houses, toilets and cash doles for beneficiaries among others are being implemented in UP apart from state-sponsored schemes. Fewer crimes than earlier have been reported during the rule of CM Yogi, who again has no corruption charges against him.
Statistically, in 2022, BJP has bagged lesser seats than 2017 state elections. But, it moved up its vote share from 39.6% to near 42%, indicating both the deepening and widening of its voter base in the state.
Therefore, yes BJP couldn’t deliver a stellar repeat of 2017. So no doubt it was not an easy feat for BJP to bag UP this time. Moreover, it was BSP and Congress who were vote waster and vote spoilers.
Few political observers claimed that how SP would wrap up BJP at 195 seats, less than the required mark, 202 seats. However, BJP won 255 seats and SP had to pack up at distant 111 seats.
BJP has become the only party after 1977 to breach the 40% vote share mark in UP assembly elections. For the first time, a BJP CM will be elected for the 2nd term in UP in 37 years. The decimation of the traditional political players like Congress and BSP in UP shows that voters need the administration to do real and empirical work for them, not just play the divide and rule game amongst the caste and religion nexus.
BJP’s Comfortable win in Uttarakhand and Goa
When trends commenced to predict BJP winning in UP, media reported that even if BJP won UP it will be a sore loser in Uttarakhand and Goa. This is a classic way of the mainstream media of changing the goal post, when losing the grip.
Some mouthpieces of Congress and anti-BJP elements claimed that voters of Goa are in their favour. They accused of BJP being desperate to come in power. They put forth allegations like resorting to horse-trading in the post-poll scenario, Hindutva polarisation, and no impactful face after late Manohar Parrikar in Goa and his son Utpal Parrikar going independent would go against BJP. One broad trend that has come to the fore is that there is a wave of deep anger against the ruling dispensation in Goa, cutting across religion and caste demographics.
Some big media houses claimed that growing unemployment, rising prices of essential commodities and rampant corruption over the current government’s 10 years in power have contributed to the anti-incumbency.
Despite a strong anti-incumbency wave in Goa, BJP has bagged 20 seats out of 40 seats and support of MGP and 3 independent candidates to be in the pole position to form 3rd consecutive government in the state. The Congress has managed to win 11 seats.
Compared to 2017, the BJP has made gains in terms of the number of seats it has won: 13 in 2017 versus 20 in 2022. The Congress has lost seats, from 17 in 2017 to just 11 this time. In 2022, with the final tally, Congress would also not be able to reach the majority mark even if all the parties, including the Independents, rally their support against the BJP.
According to the experts, there was a hung assembly predicted in the state. Some even went to the extent of stating it would be the stiffest challenge in over a decade. If that’s the case then where is that neck-to-neck competition? How did BJP fare better than its 2017 performance in Goa?
Giving a blind eye to the ground reality won’t change the truth that voters have seen BJP as an able party to take the growth forward. BJP managed pretty well because they have a clear agenda at sight: development.
Unlike the contemporaries who just have one goal to keep BJP out of power, and not working for the upliftment of the people of the states respectively.
Similarly, analysts created a narrative that BJP would lose BJP. The politically volatile state of Uttarakhand was expected to witness a tight fight between the BJP and the INC as several exit polls predicted suspense and political parties sent out feelers for possible post-poll tie-ups.
Analysts also observed that among half-a-dozen MLAs including a cabinet minister, who had contested the poll, few have repeatedly accused their own party seniors of ‘sabotage’.
According to some, BJP has been suffering from infighting and factionalism even since it came to power in 2017, which came to the boil in 2021 when Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced by Tirath Singh Rawat as chief minister, and then again by Pushkar Singh Dhami recently. This infighting has seriously damaged its prospects in the state.
Big names like the Pushkar Singh Dhami and Harish Rawat lost their seats. Congress lacked aggressive campaigning by central leaders, barring a few public rallies by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. Power struggle in the Congress camp was also visible. Harish Rawat’s daydreaming costed INC heavily. His hollow statements towards BJP backfired on him.
However, overcoming heavy odds and proving most exit polls wrong, the BJP in Uttarakhand has returned to power with the party emerging victorious in 47 of the 70 assembly seats. Congress stumbles at 19, despite the tight competition predicted by the mainstream media.
Last but not the least, BJP’s stellar performance in Manipur is an indication that PM Modi led BJP’s efforts to make North-East a gateway of development has worked pretty well. BJP retained power in Manipur with full majority as it won 32 out of 60 seats.
The state elections were full of twists, turns and surprises as well. Several big names saw themselves tanked down. After the resounding victory of the BJP in four states including Uttar Pradesh, now the disappointment of some journalists is also being seen.
Mainstream media as usual ignoring BJP’s victories and focusing on AAP scooping Punjab, which indeed was a strong blow to Congress. Journalists like, Rajdeep Sardesai posing AAP as a national formidable force as Congress is creating a vacuum. Well, this shows the biased and selective rhetoric.
When the netizens started to create memes on some politically and ideologically motivated journalists like Ravish Kumar, he stated that “IT cell thinks of me even before it thinks about Modi. They start to imagine my reactions to the results. I am not impressed by the election results and neither am I very interested in election coverage anymore. The exit poll has said that BJP is winning in UP on 10th March, so from now only they are making memes on me.”Ravish Kumar’s victim playing at harmless memes going viral was ironic, to say the least.
Rana Ayyub sadly admitted that, ‘I think we have to accept the reality that the results of 2024 Lok Sabha elections are out. Now the opposition parties need to start preparing for 2029.’
Will AAP and other emerging regional parties emerge as an impressive national alternate against BJP in the coming times, only their consistency, strategies and time can answer this question. But one thing is certain that BJP has already earned the finale ticket to 2024 General Assembly election battlefield. With these smashing election achievements, it has added more golden feathers to its hat.