UP Civic Polls result 2017 show Yogi Adityanath and Bharatiya Janata Party have passed with distinction their first political test – Uttar Pradesh Municipal elections – after coming to power in the state early this year. The results also suggest that ‘Yogi magic’ – which seems to be a by-product of ‘Modi magic’ – has started to affect electoral results. The saffron party had understood the challenge well in advance and designed it’s strategy in accordance, while the opposition leaders apparently didn’t take much interest. Last time, BJP had won 10 out 12 mayoral seats when it was out of power both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh. And this time, despite its presence in the state and at the Centre, the party fought elections like an Assembly poll. The strategy was spot on – mammoth poll campaign, ticket allocation on caste-based factors and appeal to voters.
The party, traditionally very popular in civic elections, ran a large-scale campaign for victory. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath anchored the campaign, holding at least 35 public meetings which were nothing less than small rallies normally seen during assembly polls. Adityanath was well joined by his deputies – Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and the party’s UP unit chief Mahendra Nath Pandey. Reports said BJP even asked its Union ministers and MPs to move to their respective constituencies.
Also, BJP was the first party to release a centralized manifesto for the election, traditionally the candidates used to release their separate manifestos based on local issues. Adityanath once again cooked the campaign meal on the basis of religion and development. The priest-turned-politician has chosen Ayodhya to kickstart his campaign. Not to forget here, Ayodhya and Mathura-Vrindavan municipal corporations, constituted by Yogi Adityanath government, went to polls for the first time. These two separate municipal corporations cover religiously significant towns of Ayodhya and Mathura.
BJP’s manifesto also turned out to be the highlight of party’s election campaign. Launched by Adityanath, the Sankalp Patra promised to provide “world-class facilities” and contained elements which appealed to maximum number of urban voters. The launch of common Sankalpa Patra was an unprecedented move which laid out a clear vision for candidates as to how and what they have to promise to voters. It also helped BJP units at district levels to fight elections with a common agenda.
Carrying a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on the top of the cover page, BJP’s manifesto covers almost all issues which are directly related to needs of urban voters. To mention in general, the topics covered issues like drinking water, waste management, health, housing, power supply, lighting, traffic, transportation, and sanitation. Some highlights of the manifesto were a free tap connection to every household, Rs. 20,000 for building private toilets in each house and LED street lights – something which likely appealed to lower middle class and women voters. To woo the commoners, the party had promised to start air-conditioned bus services in all major cities. For youths, it promised to provide free Wi-Fi at major public places. For women, it promised to build pink toilets at main marketplaces.
The ticket distribution was also done after much debate and deliberation. The Baniya- Brahmin community, considered as BJP’s core vote base in UP, were given priority this time. Brahmin constitute 11 per cent of the population in UP, Baniyas are 2 per cent. Despite being lesser in numbers, Baniyas or Vaishya is considered a wealthy community and play an important role in election financing at local levels. As a matter of fact, the organisation was earlier referred to as “Baniya-Brahmin party” until PM Narendra Modi’s mega campaign in 2014. The communities were reportedly upset with the party over lesser representation in government. Out of total 14 (unreserved) seats for Mayor elections, the saffron party fielded 11 from Baniya-Brahmin community.
One factor which can’t be ignored here was the evident apathy of prime opposition parties – BSP and SP – to these elections. While SP chief Akhilesh Yadav didn’t take an active part in campaign, BSP boss Mayawati reportedly held a single meeting and issued necessary directives for the elections. Despite the drubbing in Assembly elections this year and decimation in 2014, SP and BSP leaders didn’t participate in the polls. On the other hand, Adityanath expressed party’s seriousness about the elections. “We enter every election like it is an examination. The Opposition is already running away from the field.” Well, not to forget here, Congress did send its star campaigners like Raj Babbar, Jitin Prasad, Sanjay Singh and Salman Khurshid to hit the campaign trail.
The results which are announced just ahead of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will send out two direct signals – that people of country’s largest state still have faith in Modi brigade, and two, the opposition is still unable to find an answer against the saffron wave be it on national, state or local level.