Lok Sabha Election 2019: Why polls are big test for Yogi Adityanath in UP

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New Delhi | Published: April 2, 2019 6:14:56 PM

It is not the candidate who is important, but vote will be cast to make Narendra Modi the prime minister, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said.

Adityanath, Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Indian Army, Narendra Modi, Surgical Strikes Balakot, Surgical Strikes URI, ASAT, Mission Shakti, gorakhmpur, meerut, ghaziabadUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at Taj Mahal. (Source: Express photo by Yogi Adityanath)

In the upcoming Lok sabha elections, it is not the candidate who is important, but vote will be cast to make Narendra Modi the prime minister, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said in an interview with Dainik Jagran. Lok Sabha elections are being seen as a big challenge for firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath as the BJP would look to repeat its 2014 success when it won 71 seats out of the total 80 in Uttar Pradesh. BJP’s ally Apna Dal had won two seats.

The major political parties in Uttar Pradesh are regional powers – Samajwadi party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the national players – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (INC).

With the SP-BSP alliance – and now RLD – emerging on the horizon and Congress choosing to go solo in the elections in an attempt to make a comeback in the state, BJP would be surrounded on three fronts.

However, the major opposition parties are putting up a united front in UP with Congress leaving seven seats and SP-BSP leaving 2 seats in the state for each other.

Caste combinations

Caste combinations are a major factor in Uttar Pradesh where 47 of 80 constituencies have the Muslim-Yadav-Dalit population higher than 50 per cent, as per a India Today report. This may prove crucial for the BJP which does not have these categories as their traditional voters.

However, the BJP appears to have placated their voter base by introducing the 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections of general category this year.

Financial Express Managing Editor Sunil Jain wrote in February 2019 that the party was planning to sub-categorise the OBCs, allowing non-powerful castes to also get the benefit of reservations—instead of mostly the Yadavs and the Kurmis in, a huge base in Uttar Pradesh.

Core bases of castes

The Justice Kumar committee report, Jain said, suggested that the 27 per cent quota for OBCs be divided and, out of this, only 7 percentage points (which is roughly a fourth) be allotted for powerful backward castes such as Yadavs and Kurmis—Yadavs which are the core base of the Samajwadi Party whereas the Kurmis form the support base of BJP ally Apna Dal.

The Justice Kumar committee has defended it by saying that both Yadavs and Kurmis are culturally, economically and politically powerful—the immediate issue is whether groups like the Yadavs and Kurmis will just roll over and let this happen or whether this will snowball into a larger conflict.

We will get 74 plus seats out of 80 in the parliament: Yogi

It remains to be seen whether these caste adventures by the BJP would pay, but CM Adityanath remains unperturbed. The UP CM told Dainik Jagran that he was very confident of BJP’s prospects in the Lok Sabha polls, predicting 74 plus seats out of 80 in the parliament.

Trends remain unpredictable

Moreover, the state has been unpredictable at times if we look at the trends of polls during the last few years – the 2014 general elections, 2017 assembly elections and 2018 bye-polls.

While the alliances and the caste combinations in an election can make all the difference, the 2014 general elections had Modi wave and the BJP made a stunning comeback after 17 years, winning 71 seats out of 80.

In 2014, the BJP had allied with Apna Dal, the Indian National Congress which only won 2 legacy seats had made an alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Mahan Dal

Mayawati’s BSP, which had contested independently, lost on all seats while Yadavs’ Samajwadi party only managed to win five seats contested by the Yadav family members.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the SP-Congress Alliance led by Akhilesh Yadav won only 55 seats out of 403 and was defeated by the BJP which had won a thumping majority of 325 seats without projecting a chief ministerial candidate prior to the election.

It was this election that saw Yogi Adityanath emerging as a main player in the party.

Star campaigners – the Modi-Yogi factor

In 2018, the Modi-Yogi factor seemed to have failed as the BJP saw shocking defeats in Kairana as well as its traditional bastions of Phulpur and Gorakhpur, in which Yogi won five times.

The BSP had famously lent support to SP for both Phulpur and Gorakhpur constituencies.

It was even more shocking as under Yogi Adityanath, BJP lost 4 out of 5 by-elections it contested. The silver lining remained with the BJP winning the Sikandara Assembly seat in Kanpur rural area.

With all these factors, it can safely be said that while caste combination and alliances can influence elections in the state, there are other factors that could have an impact on elections too.

National security and Ram Mandir

Yogi Adityanath has said the NDA-led by the BJP is not soft on the terrorist, underpinning the fact that national security is also an election issue.

“We don’t want a government that feeds biryani to the terrorists, we want who gives them a bullet and that has happened under Modiji,” he said citing the surgical strike in 2016 and IAF strike in Balakot in February.

However, besides nationalism, the party which first came to prominence due to the Ram Mandir issue during the mid-1990s is also cornered on the same after all these years. Refuting that, Yogi has blamed the Congress for the delay but did not elaborate.

“The matter of Ram Mandir is currently in the highest court of the country but the reason for the delay in the decision is the Congress but the temple should be constructed where Lord Ram resides,” 46-year-old leader told Dainik Jagran.

Generational shift
The 2019 general elections have also marked a generational shift in the party as Modi-Shah helm the affairs, visibly sidelining veterans such as Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, denying them tickets from their traditional seats in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar and Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur respectively.

“They are our senior leaders and them not getting a party ticket should not be seen in a bad way,” Yogi Adityanath said refuting allegations of Advani and Joshi being sidelined.

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