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Uttar Pradesh: A Modi-Yogi wave that experts spotted too late

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After 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls 2022 is the second big election in a row where experts failed to spot a Modi-Yogi wave.

If you were following Uttar Pradesh’s election campaign, listening to experts and believing their predictions, the assembly poll results would be shocking to you. If you discount the exit polls, most of the experts, including journalists, had been sensing an itch for ‘badlav’ (change) in Uttar Pradesh.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav represented that change. They said that there was a growing bloc of voters who were unhappy with the Yogi Adityanath government.

There was “caste discrimination” dictated by “favouritism” of all sorts for Thakurs or Rajputs. There was “anger” among the ruling Bharatiya Janata Partys (BJP) lead voters, Brahmins over their alleged sidelining and encounters of criminals belonging to the case.

The Baniyas, another vote bank of the BJP, were said to be complaining about political obstacles in the real ‘ease of doing business’ over the Yogi Adityanath government’s insistence on transparency, and raids against some of their community’s people.

Farmers, particularly the Jat community, were committed to teaching the BJP a lesson about bringing three farm reforms laws, and letting thousands of protesters stay put on the Delhi borders for over a year.

The Yadavs were moving back to the Samajwadi Party under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, Akhilesh Yadav, who patched up with his once-powerful uncle Shivpal Yadav. Muslims and Yadavs formed a formidable voting bloc for the Samajwadi Party with a guarantee of 25-30 per cent votes.

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 made international headlines from Uttar Pradesh, with photographs of sand-covered bodies on the banks and dead ones floating in the River Ganga catching eyeballs everywhere, and evoking strong sentiments. Experts viewed it as an overwhelming reason to bring about a change in the UP Assembly election.

But nothing of the sort happened. The BJP-led alliance won a comfortable majority. Its number of seats in the UP Assembly was reduced. But to be fair, the BJP had won more than three-fourths seats in the 403-member house in 2017. By the logic of democracy, the BJP’s tally was expected to come down in 2022.

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