Anti-BJP wave stemming from economic distress; not attacking Modi worked for SP-led alliance: Sudhir Panwar

Sudhir Panwar, a close confidant of SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav thinks that economic factors are playing more significant role in the consolidation of anti-BJP votes than the caste arithmetic

Akhilesh Yadav's rally
Akhilesh Yadav's rally


After two phases of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, observers believe that BJP – which tried to polarise the polls along religious lines but failed – may face a humiliating defeat in the ongoing polls.

Out of 113 seats where polls concluded, as per many, BJP will not get more than 30-40 seats.

There are many who opine that caste-based political alliances and farmers’ protest are behind BJP’s poor show in the elections. But Sudhir Panwar – a close confidant of Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav and former member of UP Planning Commission thinks that economic factors are playing more significant role in the consolidation of anti-BJP votes than the caste arithmetic.

Panwar believes that growing anger against the BJP, people attacking BJP leaders and forcing them to flee is the “political manifestation of disastrous economic policies pursued by the BJP government in the last seven years.”

Explaining it as the “morphosis of accumulative distress of bad economic policies into an anti-BJP political formation” the SP leader said it all started after demonetisation in 2016.

“Adverse impacts of demonetisation were neither visible not felt immediately. In the wave of fake nationalism and narrative built around black money, people got carried away last time. Though it took them five years to realise the damage, they have realised it now,” said Sudhir.

It is worth noting here that the BJP swept assembly polls held a few months after demonetisation. BJP led alliance won over 320 seats with 40 per cent vote share while the SP and Congress together failed to cross 55 seats in 2017. Both the parties got 27 per cent and 7 per cent vote share respectively.

“Had the Modi government not enacted the three farm laws which eventually they had to withdraw, they could have had something as a face savior,” said Panwar.

“What was there in the farm laws which farmers opposed so staunchly? They believed that laws would snatch their share of profit. Basically, farmers' protest was an economic issue. The government’s decision to implement laws stirred economic anxiety among the peasantry class,” added Panwar.

Stating that two back-to-back lockdowns and mishandling of the pandemic worsened the situation further, Panwar added, “People were looking for a messiah who could balm the wounds.

Anti-BJP expression on the ground should be seen from this perspective”.

Explaining why the Akhilesh led SP alliance has an edge over the BJP despite the latter having immense resources, Panwar said that the Akhilesh did not fall in the trap laid by the BJP.

“The wisest thing Akhilesh did in this election is that he did not attack Modi thus foiled BJP’s attempt to make the poll a clash between two personalities. Secondly, he did not raise any (religious, communal) issue which could antagonise the majority community,” said Panwar.

Echoing what Panwar said, a Lucknow based senior journalist who did not wish to be named said that the people consider Akhilesh as a humble and soft politician in comparison to Yogi Adityanath.

“Despite mainstream media especially news channels portraying him as a weak administrator, in public perception Akhilesh is regarded as an able head of the state who thinks of the development of all sections,” said the journalist.

“Yogi Adityanath does not talk like a CM, but a Bhagwa clad strong man who happens to be the CM of India’s most crucial state,” said the journalist.

In the second week of February, new channel ABP conducted a survey about the best CM for UP where though Adityanath led the pack with 43.6% of the voters preferring him, Akhilesh Yadav at number two found the support of 33.7% of the voters.

The former chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati trailed way behind with 15.6%.

Panwar said that the result of the survey does not match the reality on ground.

“Akhilesh is heading towards forming a majority government in UP,” said the former Lucknow University professor.

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