Defeated, Modi and media claim victory in UP

A BJP sweep in the UP civic polls would’ve been no news. BJP had won 71 LS seats in 2014 & 311 Vidhan Sabha seats this year. Though routed, the party and the media brazenly claimed victory

Picture courtesy: Twitter
Picture courtesy: Twitter

Faraz Ahmad

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Hindustan Times Leadership summit that he was ready to pay the political price for Demonetisaton and GST, it was certainly not on account of an Akashwani.

Now we know that the PM had sound and legitimate reasons to be on the defensive. Before he rose to speak at the summit, results of the local body elections in Uttar Pradesh had started pouring in. And while Television news channels were manipulated rather well by the BJP to give the impression that BJP had swept the elections, Prime Minister Modi possibly was better informed.

Contrary to the hype created in the embedded media, both print and on TV channels, the results now that they are available on the website of the state election commission are the exact opposite of what was sought to be projected by the BJP with newspapers jumping in to publish photographs of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath being fed sweets by party leaders for what was claimed to be a “spectacular victory”.

True, BJP succeeded in winning the Mayoral elections in a big way, getting 14 of their 16 Mayoral candidates to win, with the exception of the communally surcharged Aligarh and Meerut towns, where Behanji Mayawati’s BSP nominees won. Curiously, these were the only elections where the Electronic Voting Machines were deployed. Ironically, there were extensive reports by the same media of widespread complaints that the machines had been programmed in advance to ensure a BJP victory.

Barring the Mayoral elections, all the other civic elections in this round in UP were held through ballot papers. In all these other elections, BJP fared miserably. If anything, it was a humiliating defeat for the BJP. But the gullible media happily reported that the Congress had been decimated in these elections. Indeed, Congress has been a fringe player in the state’s politics for over 20 years and the votes normally are split three ways between BJP, SP and the BSP. Congress is not the main player in UP but the media coverage of the election focused on the poor performance of the Congress!

Clearly, the ploy was to play up the coverage in Gujarat in a desperate bid to shore up BJP’s faltering support there. But such perverse media coverage is unlikely to draw the attention of the Election Commission, the Press Council and other media watchdogs.

In any case, having won 71 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 general elections and 311 assembly seats earlier this year, a sweep for the BJP should have come as no surprise. The news was the losses suffered by the BJP within six months of Yogi Adityanath’s triumphant swearing-in. But trust the embedded media, now increasingly called the ‘Godi’media, to miss the wood for the forest.

For electing Nagar Panchayat members, ballot papers were used. Out of 5434 seats, results of 5390 had been declared at the time of writing this piece. And the BJP had won only 662 of them, losing 4728 to others. And this despite the votes getting split between opposition parties such as SP, BSP, Congress and Ajit Singh’s Rashitrya Lok Dal.

Similarly, the BJP also lost the elections held to elect Nagar Panchayt chairmen, again through ballot papers. There were total 438 seats of chairmen. Results declared: 437. BJP won 100 and lost 337.

If anything, this reflects a remarkable and decisive swing against Modi and the BJP. Results in UP, for all we know, could be an indicator to the kind of results Modi should expect from Gujarat but for assistance of the EVM.

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