The Indian federal structure took a big hit or was strengthened depending on which side of the spectrum you are standing. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) getting an astounding majority of 312 seats in a diverse Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly of 403 constituencies is special in itself, what magnified the victory was the complete disregard of the Akhilesh Yadav –Rahul Gandhi alliance by the voters.
BJP’s alliance partners did better with Apna Dal (Sonelal) winning 9 seats; and Suheldeo Bhartiya Samaj Party won 4 seats helping take the total BJP+ tally to 325 seats.
The BJP garnered 39.7 per cent of the votes polled contesting across 384 seats. The BSP though could win only 19 of the 403 seats, it polled 22.2 percent votes. The SP which got 47 seats contesting 311 seats bagged 21.8 per cent of the votes.
The UP assembly composition resembles the 1991 assembly poll results (post the Ram Mandir wave), where both the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) were reduced to their minimum tallies.
In 1991, BSP had won only 12 seats, the SP also recorded its worst performance in its 25-year history since 1991, when the SP had won only 30 seats.
However, the election yielded a little more success for women in UP with a record 38, highest since independence, this despite political parties giving tickets to only 96 women candidates.
A TsuNamo led BJP decimated the SP-Congress alliance and blew away the BSP to surpass its previous best of winning 221 seats in 1991, helping the BJP to return to power in UP after 14 years; the ‘ UP ko yeh saath Pasand Hai’ and’ Kaam bolta hai’ opposition slogans notwithstanding.
Another sign of the TsuNamo was how they won without fielding a single Muslim candidate. In the last 2012 assembly elections, a record 69 Muslim candidates had won including 39 from the winning SP alone. In 2017, BSP fielded 97 Muslim candidates, the highest number while the SP fielded 67 and the Congress gave tickets to 15 Muslim candidates. Of these only 24 candidates got elected, the UP Assembly shall have 17 MLAs from SP, 5 MLAs from BSP and 2 MLAs from the Congress party.
This lack of plurality in the BJP win might also be a sign of times to come. As UP accounts for the highest Muslim population in India and with none in the government and it will require extra-care on part of the BJP government to keep its word on ‘sabka saath sabka vikaas’ poll promise.
The dispersion of the Muslim votes in UP and BJP winning despite not garnering Muslim votes, might cause alarm bells and even alienate the minority population already feeling threatened by the notorious fringe elements gaining authority under the protection of the BJP and its ideological allies. The government watching mutely both in the centre and in the state will be detrimental for the multi-cultural Indian democracy most of all to its federal structure.
Editor’s take: BJP’s massive victory deserves to be applauded for a well fought campaign, yet it needs to be delved into and studied for possible undercurrents. All allegations aside, including the EVM machines being rigged, they are for the Election Commission to resolve. Sociologically speaking, not even people losing their identity or rightful place spark such tsunamis. Such mandates are a result of fear and a psychosis of grave loss, much like the Ram Mandir wave that left the country scarred. To my fear, making monsters out of the minorities, a threat like xenophobia has crept into the voter to result in such numbers. The BJP under Narendra Modi shall have to lead a very responsible government to not encourage any other such under current alienating the minorities. While Mr. Modi already carries a tarnished reputation from what happened in the Gujarat riots, a repeat of an uncontrolled (unchecked) riot in Uttar Pradesh can be catastrophic. While BJP enjoys the power, it must snare up the responsibility to lead all people, like Mr Modi himself said.