Election of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2022: already the game?
It is only a few months before India’s most politically important state goes to the legislative elections. Currently, the BJP holds the fort with 315 seats (BJP: 306 seats; AD (S): 9 seats) out of a total of 403 assembly constituencies. In addition, the party and its ally, Apna Dal (Sonelal), hold 64 of Lok Sabha’s 80 seats in the UP. Now it remains to be seen whether the BJP will manage to maintain its grip, at a time when the political situation may not be a replica of 2019 but the state could see the two major opposition parties arguing independently. , fragmenting the anti-BJP. vote.
At first glance, it looks like the election will be one-sided, with the BJP retaining their pole position and the SP falling far behind. Reports of personality conflicts and internal struggles within the BJP have recently surfaced, but how well perceptions match reality is unclear – and even if this is true, what its consequences will be, only time. can tell. One thing is more or less clear. Despite the reported dissatisfaction of a number of MPs and state deputies, and despite the reluctance of CM MP Keshav Prasad Maurya to accept the current CM as the face for 2022, there does not appear to be any alternative. to Yogi Adityanath for the BJP. Its identification with the image of the party – what it offers and markets – is so complete.
The Samajwadi Party, the main force in the opposition, has so far shown neither zeal nor intention to fight the incumbent BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath. He seems somehow convinced that he will automatically get the votes in an anti-incumbent wave – regardless of negligible ground activity, especially from senior executives, on issues ranging from Covid mismanagement, the unavailability of vaccination slots (especially for the 18-45 age group), repeated cases of police brutality, attempts to suppress dissent, soaring prices for fuel and cooking oil, declining GDP and employment levels in the state. Akhilesh Yadav, former national president of the CM and the SP, confined himself to social networks to express his outrage. So, either it’s complacency about a sure win, or they’re no doubt convinced that no matter how hard they try, 2022 is a bygone case.
On the other hand, the Bahujan Samaj party has behaved very badly. In the legislative elections of 2012, the party was reduced to 80 seats against 206 in 2007 and never recovered much. He didn’t get any Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and improved his tally to just 10 in 2019, when he contested in alliance with the SP. He won 19 seats in the 2017 parliamentary elections – his total is currently just seven MPs after he ousted loyal MPs Ram Achal Rajbhar (Akbarpur) and Lalji Verma (Katehri) from the party. Seen as a whole, the party’s footprint appears to be more or less diminishing in the state. Can he keep his voting share of around 20 percent? As of now, based on its current strength, there are logical reasons to project that it seems highly unlikely, although there is never a surefire way to predict the mood of the electorate. Its poor result in the February-March 2017 assembly poll came just five months after the demonetization, before and after which BSP was considered a frontrunner in some quarters. Also, on which side is the elephant, before or after the election, no psephologist can predict perfectly.
In the absence of active opposition and a near vacuum in this space, Congress and the newcomer to the state, the Aam Aadmi party, have managed to gain some coverage by raising issues of interest. general. However, many believe that the BJP has deliberately given undue attention to these two parties, primarily in an effort to further divide the already divided non-BJP votes, appearing to project them as a viable option over the SP. Whatever the reason, AAP MP Sanjay Singh has consistently targeted the state government on almost every issue. But in the absence of a field cadre, an organizational presence and so little time available, the party will rely solely on the face of the individual candidate and his manifesto, with Delhi-style promises. This has earned them two consecutive elections in Delhi, but the road will not be so easy in Uttar Pradesh.
Coming to Congress there is a long list of people leaving the big old party and joining the BJP, the latest addition to UP being Jitin Prasada. While unnecessary emphasis has been placed on his change, his decision will not come at a cost to Congress. Unlike Sachin Pilot or even Jyotiraditya Scindia, he doesn’t have a great base of support. Prasada’s membership in the BJP is neither a big advantage for the BJP nor a blow to Congress. Annu Tandon’s membership in the SP was a much bigger blow to the party. The fate of the holiday is not limited only to those who jump from the ship, but also to the state of the ancient pillars whose presence is now barely felt. The party still has leaders like Sriprakash Jaiswal, Zafar Ali Naqvi, Nirmal Khatri and Praveen Singh Aron, but they are barely visible on the ground. The party has entrusted its Tamkuhi Raj MP Ajay Kumar Lallu with the important task of leading the UPCC as president – and so far he has done a pretty decent job – but the party needs a lot more like him. Also, the introduction of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into UP politics created a lot of hype, but she mostly played cameos at regular intervals. In 2019, speculation was rife about his challenge against Prime Minister Narendra Modi of Varanasi before collapsing. Recently, too, his name has been presented as the face of the Congressional CM, but the party’s fear of failure seems to outweigh its thirst for success.
Akhilesh and Lallu both ruled out the possibility of any alliance with a major party. While it’s too early to predict anything, the BJP now seems comfortable to haul anywhere around 275 seats. None of the other parties appear to be able to touch the triple-digit mark. In fact, it will not be surprising that the total tally of all other parties combined does not reach 100 seats.
(Syed Kamran is a Lucknow-based political commentator and columnist. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect those of Outlook Magazine.)
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