By-poll lesson for BJP: Ditch Yogi Adityanath’s brand of rabid Hindutva

New Delhi, Sanjay Singh (Firstpost):The assembly by-poll results could not have possibly been any worse than this for the BJP. Similarly, it couldn’t have been any better for the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. Neither the gainer nor the loser, expected this kind of verdict to be delivered in the 11 Uttar Pradesh Assembly by-polls.

By-poll lesson for BJP: Ditch Yogi Adityanath’s brand of rabid Hindutva

Firstpost/Sandip Roy

In Rajasthan, where the party had got a three-fourth majority less than a year ago and had scored 100 percent in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP lost three of the four seats to the Congress. In Gujarat too the BJP lost two Assembly seats. Ironically the only good news comes from West Bengal where it has debuted in the state assembly.

Firstpost/Sandip RoyThe results of this round of bypolls cannot be a referendum on Modi’s government. Firstpost/Sandip Roy
The results of this round of by-polls, held across ten states, and the earlier round, held in four states, neither changes the power structure of the states concerned, nor can it be taken as some kind of an early referendum on the Modi government’s performance at the Centre.

But surely, it indicates that the complacency and manifestation of rabid Hindutava can’t work for the BJP.
Out of the 33 seats, the BJP had held 26 which were vacated because their legislators became MPs.
It’s true that local factors play the most crucial role and the voters enthusiasm or lack of it, is generally not comparable to the general elections but surely something did go wrong within the BJP.

It is highely unlikely that the MLAs turned MPs would have lost their popularity in their respective constituencies so soon or they perhaps didn’t work as hard as was expected of them, to allow another party worker from theor party to win. Or it just may be the case that the people were keen to send a wake up call to the BJP top brass so that the party does a course correction well in time and get back to do what the people at large expected them to do four months ago when they voted to make him the PM.

The likes of Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj may have been leaders in their own right with their own fan followings but they couldn’t have been the face of the party that rules India. People had voted BJP to power for economic stability, development, employment, and a robust internal and external security structure. The Hindutva factor existed but it was only latent. Unfortunately, a section of BJP leadership mistook the message of the May 2014 mandate.

Contrast the fiery Yogi Adityanath, a five-time MP from Gorakhpur with Sidharthnath Singh, the unsung party national secretary in-charge of West Bengal. Singh and the West Bengal unit of the BJP, led by Rahul Sinha, carried out a systematic campaign against Mamata Banerjee, sticking to basic issues of misgovernance and corruption and managed to do what the BJP aspired for long – open an account in the West Bengal Assembly.

Samik Bhattacharya, the party’s West Bengal general secretary, will have the distinction of being the first leader of the BJP to enter the state assembly. Basirhat Dakhin is now held by BJP. Bhattacharya had contested and lost parliamentary elections from same area. But four months later he has returned to win the assembly election. The BJP would be well advised to ponder what made it win in West Bengal and lose so embarrassingly in UP.

People are arguably not very happy with the performance of the Akhilesh Yadav government on various issues and had manifested their anger against the politics of the Samajwadi Party in the recent parliamentary election. Despite these issues, voters chose SP when it was pitted directly against the BJP.

The SP, too, would be wrong to assume that the results are an endorsement of the Akhilesh government or as a sudden spurt of popular affection for its local leaders. In a head to head situation in the interim people found SP to be better protector of their interests than the BJP. The other question, which the BJP should ponder on is why Dalits did not vote for it, like they did in the parliamentary elections, more so when the BSP had abstained from these elections. There have been incidents of clashes between Dalits and Muslims but yet they were not swayed by the idea of ‘Love Jihad’ that some hardline elements, like Yogi, propounded.

Stray instances of the so-called ‘Love Jihad’ may or may not be a reality but it certainly could not be the BJP’s main electoral plank.
What should worry the BJP is that Modi’s departure from Gujarat has impacted the party’s performance in the state and has given something to a demoralised Congress to cling on and hope that it could walk along the recovery path.

The outcome of the Assembly bypolls may also impact the seat sharing negotiations between BJP and Shiv Sena in Maharastra. On Wednesday, Uddhav Thackeray would be hoping to meet BJP chief Amit Shah in a sobered mood. [Source: FT ]