Does Modi's 'hung UP Assembly' remark show BJP is getting nervous?

The statement may be some sort of clever strategy best known to a wily politician like him, but it is definitely defeatist.

 |  4-minute read |   28-02-2017
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Something remarkable has happened in the ongoing Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, which completed five of its seven phases of voting on February 27.

Or else, how do you interpret Bharatiya Janata Party's star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing apprehensions of a hung Assembly in the state in the middle of the campaign?

How often have you seen a top leader of a ruling party at the Centre who also happens to be the prime minister of the country talking about the spectre of a hung Assembly for a prime state which is yet to have two more rounds of polling?

This is precisely what Modi has done at an election rally in Mau, UP, on February 27. At this election rally, during his hour-long speech, he came out with guns blazing against the BJP’s two main rivals, the Samajwadi Party (which is contesting the elections in a pre-poll alliance with the Congress) and the Bahujan Samaj Party which is going solo.

Modi spoke of the dangers of a hung house in UP and launched a new attack on the SP and the BSP. So far, so good. But the problem is that he talked of a hung house. Why?

Is it Modi's nervousness that his party is losing the electoral plot or an admission that rival parties are better placed than his BJP?

One doesn't know. Probably nobody knows. But Modi being the prime minister has the entire state apparatus to afford him a sneak peek or a bit of crystal ball gazing which other parties cannot.

But first see the operative portion of the Modi-speak at the Mau rally. This is what he said: “You (SP, BSP) might be thinking that in case of a hung House, you will get a chance to bargain but the people of UP have shown you in the Lok Sabha polls, by ensuring a full majority to BJP, and in these elections, they will ensure that BJP wins with a huge margin.”

This is amazing; almost unbelievable that a prime minister in the middle of an election campaign in an-all crucial state like UP chooses to make such a remark!

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A low voter turnout does not have happy portents for the BJP. Photo: PTI

The confusion gets confounded when one considers the fact that the fifth phase of polling produced a low voter turnout of just 57.36 per cent. The first four phases of UP polls saw voter turnouts of 64 per cent, 65 per cent, 61.16 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively.

A low voter turnout does not have happy portents for the BJP. In the scenario of a BJP wave, one would have seen a high voter turnout. But that has not happened.

Is this what is worrying PM Modi? Is this the reason behind his hung Assembly remark? Nobody knows for sure but this is definitely a valid question.

Modi loves one thing the most: delivering high-decibel, rhetorical speeches, preferably at public rallies - whether in the country or abroad. He is premium gold and betters his very best if he is addressing rallies. And why not, because he single-handedly piloted his party to unprecedented victory in the April-June May 2014 general elections on the strength of his rhetoric, making mincemeat of the entire Opposition in the process.

He is unfazed about the Opposition's sarcasm that he is full of himself and is nothing but "I, me and myself". He cares two hoots as long he is delivering for his party. Now, 33 months after his current prime ministerial tenure, he is still going strong - even after losing Bihar more than a year ago.

Talking about a hung Assembly scenario in the middle of the election campaign may be some sort of clever strategy best known to a wily politician like Modi, but it is definitely a defeatist kind of remark.

Modi is not known to make defeatist remarks. In the past half of his tenure he has never made such defeatist remarks in state Assembly elections. There have been many state elections and Modi has won most of them hands down for his party.

But this time, the UP elections seem to be different.

Also read: Will Ayodhya return to BJP this UP election?

Writer

Rajeev Sharma Rajeev Sharma @kishkindha

The writer is an independent journalist and a strategic analyst.

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