After exchanging bitter barbs in the initial phases, the campaign discourse of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Prime Minister Narendra Modi quickly shifted to the growth talks – while the UP CM tried to project his good work, PM Modi focused on how the state was languishing despite the Centre’s big support.
With the seventh and final phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh getting over today, all eyes are on the poll results to be announced on Saturday.
One of the discerning features of the elections in the all-important state is the shift of the political discourse in the rallies of top leaders, especially prime minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, from the usual exchange of barbs in the initial phase, to growth and development, going ahead.
At the centre stage was the work done, or not done, by the SP government led by Yadav.
That UP, despite getting the maximum amount of share from the Centre’s devolution of the taxes collected, has failed to grow fast is an open secret, and to that extent, the Union government was right in showing the UP CM how the state was cornering a big chunk of resources and that his allegation that the Budget ignored UP stood on weak grounds.
While the state’s GSDP growth has been over 1% lower than the national GDP in the last four years, in the case of per capita income – up from Rs 63,460 in FY12 to Rs 77,431 at the national level in FY16, with FY12 as base year – in UP, it has gone up to just Rs 37,349 from Rs 31,886.
This, in itself, tells the whole story about the development. It is, therefore, not surprising that people on the ground are concerned more about jobs and development than caste or communal politics that has dominated the state’s polity so far.
In fact, the reality that even demonetisation of Rs 500-1000 notes became a non-issue in this election also indicates to the fact that ‘growth and development’ may have been a deciding factor in the voting this time.
Whether that means a vote for change, or for continuity, will be known by Saturday evening, but the state has undoubtedly thrown up an important lesson for all the parties – the number of people sitting on the margins and looking for the party that could be the best driver of development is increasing by the day.
The political outfits ignoring this fact – and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi must be looking at it carefully, as his pre-dominant political plank appears to be an anti-Modi campaign – will have to face the consequences in the 2019 Lok Sabha election also.
So, even if the UP results are not commensurate with the efforts of PM Modi who dominated the campaigning, he has done well by returning to his 2014 growth agenda quickly.