For about a month, the people of India have kept a close eye on the progress of assembly elections in five states with an overall population of more than a quarter of a billion people – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab, and Goa. These elections are of vital importance as they mark a significant milestone in both statewide politics and national internal politics. In addition to the fact that they are a sort of litmus test of public sentiments and may shift the political landscape in the states, the elections also determine the distribution of 43 seats in the upper house of India’s parliament. The elections could also prepare for the presidential election, scheduled later in the year. This is an excellent opportunity for any political force not happy with their results to reconsider their strategy before the general elections. Let’s start with the basics.
Surprise! Many people were shocked by the count on March 10. Despite winning fewer seats in 2017 than 2017, the BJP still managed to win four important states. This made it possible for the Saffron Party to make history in Uttar Pradesh, as well. In the largest state in India, the BJP was the first party in consecutive terms to win elections. Uttarakhand is the same. For 21 years, the Congress and BJP have alternately leapfrogged one another. In Punjab, however, things changed dramatically. Sikhs were the biggest rival to the Indian National Congress as a national party. The new AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) was overwhelming them.
In Uttarakhand, the results were determined by the two major political forces – the INC and the BJP. They were therefore difficult to predict. Each side failed to predict even an estimate of how many seats they would win. Because the BJP was concerned about its historic continuity losing its majority, Congress leaders exaggerated their chances. The opposition party claimed it would gain a two-thirds majority in the legislative assembly and allegedly corralled its own candidates in Rajasthan ‘safe houses’ to prevent poaching.
Ultimately, this didn’t help, however, and the party gained two-and-a-half times fewer seats than expected. However, it is not true that the ruling party has a more than 2-fold advantage in the number of seats. According to data, the party managed only a 6% advantage in votes. It’s significant that five seats were gained with a margin of less than 1,000 votes, and incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami lost ground in the Khatima assembly constituency. Even though he achieved his goal with unimpressive results personally,
Public attention has always been drawn to the results of elections in Uttar Pradesh. This state is a stronghold for political parties. Because the elections represented a measure of the party’s ability to unite different sections of society, they were strategically important. First of all, it is not the first time that the same party won in the elections. The caste factor has been a major influence on the character of political struggle. Unresolved unemployment problems and economic recession issues can lead to discontentment with current government policies.
These factors did not stop the BJP from winning. While the party may have lost some of its seats, it was able to win more than two-thirds of its major rival. This election clearly shows that the state has begun to create a de facto bipartisan system. The SP (Socialist Party), and the BJP hold 90% of the seats within the local parliament.
In fact, it was more of a contest between leaders. The BJP’s last victory was attributed to the “Modi factor” – the active participation in the campaign of the widely popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Things are now different. Yogi Amityanath was the chief minister at that time. Akhilesh Yadav (national president of SP), a Sydney University graduate and hereditary politician, opposed him. Both are close friends and share similar achievements in politics. Modi had become the youngest member of the 12th Lok Sabha at 26 (the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament), the second was the youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh at the age of 38.
Yogi is a highly controversial figure in India as well as within the BJP. Ostentatiously, Yogi blends politics and religion. He is the head priest for the Hindu temple at Gorakhpur. He was accused of populism, and using communist rhetoric in order to rally support from the Hindu population. As chief minister, he signed a somewhat ambivalent law restricting interfaith weddings, in an effort to stop so-called “tribal marriages”. “love jihad.”
During his election campaign, he employed nationalist Hindutva rhetoric and called opponents of his party “Opponents of Hindutva”. “supporters of Jinnah” (a historical Muslim leader — RT) and the elections themselves – “an issue of 80 against 20,”The ratio of Hindus and Muslims within the state was mentioned. Yadav faced a difficult task: he had to almost resist all that was being thrown at him and to the entire administrative apparatus from the BJP.
The unification policies of the BJP proved to be effective, as were the results. This can be explained by the raw memories from the mass clashes that took place between Muslims and Hindus back in 2013, which led to over 60 deaths. And that’s exactly why some Indian journalists and politicians dubbed the state a new “Hindutva laboratory.”In addition to subjective factors, the joint program of financial aid to the lowest strata was also effective. The unorganized activities of the opposition were starkly opposed to the consolidated position at different levels of the ruling party.
An example of this, inter alia, could be found in candidates’ nomination processes. The opposition parties in western areas of the state proposed Muslim candidates to the same constituents, making it difficult for them all to oppose the BJP. The SP camp’s internal contradictions caused a certain damage to their image.
AAP’s victory in Punjab perhaps came as the biggest surprise for observers. The Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (which represents the interests the Sikh community) have always been the major political players in Pakistan. The steepness of Congress’ fall was even overmatched by the AAP’s rise, a newish party formed in 2012 by Arvind Kejriwal. Now, this dramatic shift is known as “AAPheval.” In general, the political standoff can be characterized as a clash between generations: The two oldest parties in the country tried to becloud public visibility of a ‘supernova’. They failed. Under the motto of ‘badlav’ (change) and the fight against corruption, the party completely decimated opponents by an overwhelming five-fold majority.
They managed to run a highly successful campaign under the leadership of Bhagwant Chan Mann, their regional leader. The key to their success was a similar one. The key to this success was similar. It wasn’t just inspiring rhetoric. This victory marked the failure of regional heavyweights – for the first time in 30 years the Badal family gained no prominent membership in the assembly. Sonya Gandhi, president of INC, resigned for similar reasons to leaders from Uttarakhand (Goa), Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur as well as Punjab.
Both in Goa, and Manipur the ruling party prevailed. Despite a dramatic decline in Congress’s number of seats, the BJP won Manipur with a simple majority. Although the Goa polls have resulted in a hung Parliament, the party had to convince one candidate to join them. The party succeeded in achieving the objectives and won the support of every independent member and representative of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Regional MGP).
On one hand, this is despite some weakness in the positions of ruling party “on the ground,”The election results preserve the freedom to exercise political maneuvers “on top.” The Saffron party retains the dominant share of the electoral map, controlling approximately 42% of the country’s geographical area. However, there are some fascinating characteristics that can be seen when you look closely. First, polls show that rhetoric and course of the ruling party are still valid. Secondly, there are signs of growing importance of women voting given that their turnout in some constituencies was even higher than men’s. Thirdly, not only was the triumph of BJP in the assembly election, but it also marked the rise of leaders from pivotal Uttar Pradesh.
Yogi has managed to decrease the importance of the “Modi factor”He was a prominent politician in the country. Most importantly, it is clear that traditional opposition parties are losing their power until there is a mechanism for consolidating to address the situation. The AAP’s convincing victory is fueling speculation that it could become a national political force in the very near future.