The Saffron Surge?

By demolishing the predictions of all pre-poll surveys, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls by a thumping majority. It tried hard to win the polls and had a robust organisation. Their efforts have paid ample dividends.

The BJP supporters and ideologues have taken this opportunity to go on claiming that the poll results are a reflection of the endorsement of Modi's 'demonetaisation' and 'pro-poor' measures. They called it a referendum on demonetisation which it was not. Those who witnessed the harassments of common money-using people in the wake of demonetisation can easily understand the falsity of this claim. And there is no evidence that Narendra Modi, after becoming the Prime Minister, has formulated a single policy that is directly in favour of the poor. His promise of creating 20 million jobs a year has also turned out to be a damp squib. His professed sympathy for Muslim women is dictated more by hatred of the Muslim community by the concern for his 'Muslim sisters'. Remember the Israt Jahan case. Also remember that no Muslim woman was fielded as a BJP candidate. By not including any Muslim, man or woman, in its list of candidates, the BJP made it clear that it was not eager to reach out to the Muslim community. The tears about Muslim women were meant only to intensify communal polarisation.

Despite the failure of Modi to fulfil his promises and the obvious inconveniences caused to the common masses by the decision of demonetisation, a step that was supported by big money bags who scarcely use cash notes in their transactions, the poll results are surprisingly and overwhelmingly in his favour. Hence they need an analysis. It should be emphasised that the principal opposition parties, the Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance as well the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), could not or did not try to highlight issues like the adverse effects of demonetisation, falsity of Modi's promises about the recovery of large amounts of black money stashed in foreign banks or the issue of colossal amounts of non-repayment of bank loans by large corporate groups. While only Vijay Mallya is in news, more than 100 corporate bosses, loan defaulters have reportedly left India. Did they lack the courage to antagonise the corporate groups? Besides, they showed a curious lack of awareness about bringing in non-Jadavs and non-Jatvs into their spheres of influence and in this respect, the Modi-Shah combine has practised a craftiness with meticulous care, making every effort, backed by immense money power, to bring them into the Hindu fold and thereby creating a Hindu-Muslim polarisation. In truth SP's reverse casteism this time has backfired. On the other hand, Akhileash Jadav has miserably failed to tackle the communal problem during his tenure as the chief minister. Many communal riots have broken out in different times and places, and the principal victims were Muslims, but Akhilesh Jadav's administration showed a curious indifference. This can be substantiated by many examples. Sometimes, the BSP people, rather than the BJP goons, were held responsible for the riots (remember the Mathura episode of June 2012). This callous role of the SP government was never criticised by the Congress which only counted on returning to power by embracing their new ally. All this caused an alienation of the SP-Congress alliance from the Muslim community in general. Finally, the anti-BJP votes were divided between the SP and the BSP, helping the BJP immesurably. In general, both parties underestimated the danger of communal majorittarianism and were busy quarrelling among themselves rather than trying to check this dangerous phenomenon. Nitish Kumar and Laloo Jadav, whatever their other infamous records, proved wiser in this respect. Just before the publication of the poll results, Akhilesh Jadav made an overture to Mayavati for a post-poll alliance. What prevented him from doing it earlier? Again, what prevented Mayavati from considering this question before the polls? Both of their minds were seemingly distorted by complacence and arrogance.

The vote share of the BJP is not overwhelming. It is about 40 percent, far less than what the AAP received in the Delhi polls. So, there is little substance in the contention that the whole of the nation is behind Narendra Modi. Moreover,in Punjab the campaign of projecting Narendra Modi has been badly hurt by the ignominous defeat of the Akali-BJP combine. Yet there should be no doubt that the forces of communal majoritarianism will be strengthened and encouraged by the results of the UP polls. Only a unity between dalits and religious minorites can counter it effectively.

Vol. 49, No.37, Mar 19 - 25, 2017