The results of UP state polls being watched very closely all over, as this may turn out to a be direct referendum on the personal leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is driving NDA’s campaign efforts in the crucial state.
Large states’ elections have always been important in India, but this time around it’s a different story altogether with the results of UP state polls being watched very closely all over, as this may turn out to a be direct referendum on the personal leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is driving NDA’s campaign efforts in the crucial state.
A win or loss in the UP election for BJP will not just decide which party will govern India’s largest state for the next five years, it will also have ramifications on the national-level policymaking with Modi becoming bolder or weaker to take politically tough decisions.
Here’s how the UP election results will affect Modi’s leadership in the years to come.
- The results will first and foremost be seen as a vote on demonetisation. A win will credit Modi with getting the move right despite many bungles along the way and relentless criticism by his opponents. It will give a boost to Modi’s personal credibility and his foresight in taking decisions which might otherwise be considered as too risky by others.
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- UP win will strengthen Modi’s central government with greater say in the upper house of the Parliament, as it will allow more BJP members in Rajya Sabha. This could help the government push some crucial reforms harder, which are stuck because of political opposition on contentious matters such as land and labour. However, even a resounding UP win will not give the party an absolute majority in Rajya Sabha, where BJP is short 50 seats, whereas the state offers only 10.
- Modi’s win in the state could go a long way in silencing his political opponents and critics, who have tried to convince the voters about the ills of his policies, specially demonetisation, which ended up causing a huge inconvenience to large sections of the society. However, if recent local elections are any indicator, the voters have endorsed the move with thumping victories in Maharashtra municipal corporations, Gujarat municipalities and panchayats, Chandigarh local elections, Faridabad local elections, and Odisha assembly. A similar victory in UP will strengthen Modi’s leadership and will expand his follower base within and outside the party, with the other leaders wanting to be associated with him and emulating him. [Also read: UP elections 2017: Math suggests BJP set to win a comfortable majority, says Surjit Bhalla]
- On the other hand, a loss in UP could immediately put brakes on other potential bold decisions in the pipeline, as Modi might be forced to pause and take stock of the impact of his recent and future actions. His further actions will be analysed not only on the merit of impact on the economy/development, but also on the potential harm it may cause to the party’s future prospects, especially in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
- Not only this, a loss of face in UP election would almost certainly lead Modi to immediately take some populist measures in a bid to regain his mass appeal. His partymen would want to address more and more local issues in their respective constituencies instead of wanting to ride on Modi wave. Tough national decisions would be put on backburner, weakening investor confidence in the economy.
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- The opposition parties will get a shot in the arm and would become more vocal critics of Modi’s actions, and will surely pin his defeat on the ill-effects of demonetisation, saying that the voters have rejected the move with their ballot. They would use this defeat to block other crucial but unpopular reform moves, inciting voters to push back.
- Further, it may strengthen the opposition parties belief in forming alliances, and they could consider replicating their success in UP to join each other in a bid to counter Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This may actually present a tough competition to him, with a potential loss in vote share, resulting into loss of seats.