Why Congress’ resurgence in Uttar Pradesh will damage the BJP the most, and not the SP, in forthcoming polls
A scrutiny of facts suggests that these ‘myths’ are not based on empirical evidence. Congress’ expansion will hurt BJP the most, not the SP, as per reports coming from the interiors and the hinterland
One of the most dominant ‘myths’ related to contemporary UP politics is that if Congress becomes stronger in the state, the Opposition will be weakened, especially the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is seen as a force to be reckoned with and as a political alternative to the Hindutva politics.
This lot believes: 1) Congress is gaining ground in the state at the cost of the SP; 2) It will help BJP return to power again by splitting the Opposition votes.
Ever since Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi launched an aggressive campaign against the Yogi government, a section of media, poll analysts, journalists claim:
· That the Congress will play the role of a ‘spoil-sport’ for the anti-BJP camp in UP polls
· That BJP may lose in western UP, but it will retain the power by holding the ground in eastern UP or Awadh region
However, a scrutiny of the fast-changing ground realities – especially after the Gorakhpur rally – suggests that these ‘myths’ are not based on any sort of empirical evidence.
The expansion of the Congress will hurt the BJP most, not the SP, suggest reports coming from the interiors and hinterland.
Seen from the class perspective, it is evident that the Congress’ electoral fortune was based on three kinds of class bases – upper caste /middle-class base, Dalits, and Muslims.
The Other Backward Class (OBC) drifted away from the Congress in the 1960s when Rammanohar Lohia coined a slogan: Sansapa ne bandhi gaanth, pichda pave sau me saath (Socialists have taken a vow, backwards should get 60 out of 100).
After the demolition of Babri Masjid, while BJP snatched Brahmins/upper castes/urban middle class votes from the Congress, the BSP took away Dalit votes. The Muslims went to SP – founded by a protegee of Lohia, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“Who will lose first, if Congress becomes stronger in UP? The BJP – which snatched the first social base from the Congress,” says Siddharth Kalhans, Lucknow Bureau Chief of business daily Business Standard.
Kalhans, who has seen UP politics up close for nearly four decades, says that the presumption that Congress will gain lost political territory in UP at the cost of the SP originated in Delhi, and later the Lucknow media borrowed it.
“Analogy is very simple. If a commander or an army chief goes into war with his/her enemy, what will he/she do first? He/she will try to reclaim the lost territory first. Then he or she will expand,” said Kalhans, adding, “In this case, Brahmins, upper castes and the middle class will be the first which Congress is trying to win back”.
“Then comes Dalits and Muslims,” added Kalhans, posing a question “BJP has through its policies, promotion and by political opportunities done massive Hinduization of Dalits. A section of Dalits is with the BSP while the other (non-Jatavs) has gone to the BJP. If they return to the grand old party again, how will the SP be hurt?”
Lucknow-based Imtiyaz Ahmad, who works for the Kanwhizz Times opined, “Muslims may not be very happy with Akhilesh, but they will vote for the socialist party as they believe only SP can dethrone Yogi in forthcoming elections.
“M-Y combination is still relevant. It is the most powerful socio-electoral combination which could defeat Hindutva politics,” he added.
Purvanchal too will slip away from the BJP
Many seem to believe that the BJP is going to lose in western UP due to the ongoing farmers’ protests, with the Jat community extremely upset with it, but that the saffron party will retain power by winning eastern UP which is colloquially called as Purvanchal.
However, this too is not true. One of those who was present at Priyanka Gandhi’s recent Gorakhpur rally say, “A deep resentment is brewing against the BJP…It may not be visible on the surface but unlike popular belief, BJP may see a steep fall of seats in this region.”
Notably, there are about 100 seats where Muslims and Yadavs hold the key to the UP assembly. “There are 48-50 seats in Purvanchal where Muslims may decide the result,” said Kalhans.
“After 1972, Congress presence is being felt at the Panchayat level. While the organizational revamp will boost the grand old party’s prospect, it will dent the BJP most, not the SP in Purvanchal,” explained Kalhans, adding, “The Gorakhpur rally was huge…most of the people came on their own. Of course, the party facilitated their presence, but the crowd, especially women, genuinely came to listen to Priyanka Gandhi”.
A senior journalist, a native of Uttar Pradesh, who is now based in Delhi, said, “Anguished Brahmins will not allow Yogi to come again.”
Recalling how Brahmins made it difficult for former UP CM and later Prime Minister VP Singh to run his government in the state in the 1980s, the seasoned journalist opined, “Banaras and Gorakhpur rally shows that the concentration of the Congress party is on the east (as the west is already gone for the saffron party).”
Internal feuds spells trouble for BJP
Contrary to the portrayal in the mainstream media, despite the Hindutva glue, the saffron party is facing serious internal feuds in Uttar Pradesh.
UP watchers believe that Yogi has more foes than friends in the party. “If he denies tickets to 100 sitting MLAs as it is being said in sections of the media, they will not hesitate to create hell for him,” said a UP watcher.
“He had fielded his own independent candidates to defeat the official BJP candidates in the past. What will they do if given a chance? They will certainly damage the BJP,” said Kalhans.