Monday, February 13, 2017

SP-Cong wins perception war in 1st phase

Muslims constitute about 26 percent of the electorates in Western Uttar Pradesh where elections were held on Saturday in the first phase. The concentration of Muslim population is the highest in this area. Muzaffarnagar which was in the news for the infamous riots in 2013 also falls in western Uttar Pradesh. The polarization politics was played too much by all the political parties in elections in the area. Though BJP President held a press conference after the first phase of the polling and declared that his party would win 60 seats, signals after elections point towards opposite direction. His claim was refuted by the BSP. BJP is solely dependent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s magic in UP elections. But now it appears that his magic has been worn-out to the large extent if the election outcomes first in Delhi and then in Bihar are anything to go by. It is clear that Muslims play a decisive role in the outcome of the elections in western UP. They also turn up to the polling booths to cast their votes in large numbers. The perception is that the majority of Muslim votes have gone to SP- Congress alliance candidates. After Muslim electorates, Jats also have strong presence in the area and they play a dominant role in the elections. There are three main contenders- SP-Congress, BSP and BJP- in the fray. Besides these three, the fourth contender in Western UP is INLD of Ajit Singh.The ruling Samajwadi Party under the leadership of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has struck alliance with the Congress party. The political pair of Akhilesh and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is liked by the people, especially the youths, in the state. The alliance between the two parties has mainly been struck to stop the split of Muslim votes, otherwise the benefit of which could be reaped by the BJP. SP and Cong have come together to stop BJP from coming to power in the state. Though BJP has negligible number of Muslim votes anywhere in the country, its move of polarizing Hindu votes in reaction to them always prove beneficial for it. And on the basis of this assumption, Shah has claimed of bagging 60 out 73 seats in western UP. But here is also a fourth player, that is, INLD of Ajit Singh who is the strongest jat leader and has considerable influence on the community. He is the son of former Prime Minister Charan Singh, who was the voice of Jat and the tallest Kisan leader. If INLD gets majority of Jat votes, he may queer the pitch badly for the BJP. BSP supremo Mayawati is also a strong claimant of Muslim votes. She tries to portray the picture that reflects that Muslims will be the most beneficiaries and secured in her regime. She says that BSP the only party to defeat BJP in the state. That is why Muslims should vote her party to power. But as far as perception is concerned, Akhilesh-Rahul pair has won it. They have already grabbed the Muslim and all secular votes. Perception matters most in politics. Politics is itself a game of perception. Both Akhilesh and Rahul are young, energetic, forward looking, liberal and honest. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as development-oriented and he has also transcended castes and community barriers, unlike the old Samajwadis of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav's ilk sticking only to caste and community lines in elections. Akhilesh looks beyond castes. So, all castes consider him as their leader. The perception that he wants development in the state is built up, which goes to his favour. There may be different opinion poll surveys making different predictions, but one thing is certain that SP-Congress alliance has edge over others in this election in UP. The campaigning of Uttarkhand and second phase of UP elections are in full swing. They will come to end by the evening. There are 67 seats in second phase of UP and 70 seats in Uttarakhand elections.

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