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  Opinion   Columnists  14 Mar 2022  Aakar Patel | The real reason for BJP’s huge UP triumph: Not ‘development’

Aakar Patel | The real reason for BJP’s huge UP triumph: Not ‘development’

Aakar Patel is a senior journalist and columnist
Published : Mar 14, 2022, 11:33 pm IST
Updated : Mar 14, 2022, 11:34 pm IST

Election victories sanctify the actions of a political party; they do not validate them

BJP activists gather during a roadshow of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the seventh phase of the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections in Varanasi. (Photo: AFP file photo)
 BJP activists gather during a roadshow of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the seventh phase of the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections in Varanasi. (Photo: AFP file photo)

Election victories sanctify the actions of a political party; they do not validate them. Sanctification is the giving of a blessing and has nothing to do with the real world. Validation is based on facts.

At this point in time, now that the Assembly election results are in, one can claim that the voter was attracted to a party because of its welfarism or its competence at governance or delivery of services. This is what is happening in the wake of the BJP’s spectacular success in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

And it happens each time there is a BJP victory, of which there have been many and will continue to be. One reason is that the BJP needs secular validation because it operates in a world and under a Constitution that does not tolerate overt communalism. This is the reason that its supporters feel the need to trot out non-communal factors to justify the BJP’s success.

Those who wanted the Trinamul Congress to win in West Bengal, and were fortunate to see it triumph over the BJP, did not pretend that it was welfarism or competent governance or messianic leadership that carried the day. They were just relieved that the divisive “ideology” that is tearing this nation apart was stopped at one frontier. It is mostly the BJP and its backers who seek to find granular reasons for its electoral success. So, what was the win of the BJP on March 10 due to?

The truth lies in front of us. What the BJP itself did and say to the voters, how its leaders behaved and what they said, is important. What they asked votes for and in the name of is relevant: the rest is punditry.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had said that “80 vs 20 is a reality”. This was definitely an “80 vs 20 election”. The dividing of Indians by religion for votes is a reality for the BJP and it pursues this reality. If it believed that votes would be won mostly on the basis of performance and delivery, why would it engage with such things? Again, this is a rhetorical question and it will be bizarre if one does not know the answer.

This month Haryana has become the seventh BJP state since 2018 to write up a bill against “love jihad”. On February 4, 2020, the Lok Sabha was told by the Union home minister that there were no “love jihad” cases in India and that the phenomenon does not exist. So why are BJP states, including UP (which passed its love jihad law in 2020), chasing a phantom? This question will only be asked by those who are innocent of what the BJP wants and what it does, which is the constant harassment of our minorities, especially Muslims.

It is comical that instead of looking at what the BJP itself is saying to its voters, analysts and supporters look at tarot cards to divine what the factors for voting were.

The BJP has got more than 40 per cent of the votes in Uttar Pradesh in four consecutive elections (2014, 2017, 2019, 2022). We are now asked to believe that this is on the basis of the UP government’s performance and not the incessant focus on the Ram temple, beef, love jihad and the violence that they have produced.

Consider the fact that if communal mischief were not important or only marginal to the BJP’s electoral success, why their leaders would focus on it. Why put off minority voters if the burden of your song is development and delivery? The answer is that the burden of the BJP’s song is not development and delivery. It is communalism and division and the stoking of hatred, and even violence.

Consider also that this is successful and has always been so. The BJP did not have a majority of its own in any state in India from the time that the party (as Jan Sangh) was founded till 1990, when Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and later Uttar Pradesh got BJP chief ministers. It had a national vote share in single digits for four decades till it suddenly doubled to 18 per cent, and then doubled again. What happened in a short time for the party to become nationally popular? Of course it was the movement that mobilised Hindus against the mosque in Ayodhya that was destroyed, triggering pogroms across the country.

There was no delivery of services from any government and no competence to show in anything to the voter then, and there is none now.

Will this continue to attract voters in the future? This is interesting to consider, given that the Union government has made a total mess of the economy according to its own figures. Perhaps it will continue and perhaps it will not, we will see. But it would be a relief if we were not told that the BJP’s success is not on the back of what the party’s leaders themselves repeatedly demanded votes for but some mystical factors that have only now come to light in the wake of these results.

Tags: assembly election results, bjp victory, uttar pradesh
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi