Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2022: What BJP needs to keep in mind

Uttar Pradesh is going to be the most keenly observed Assembly election of 2022. It is a make-or-break election for the BJP, especially Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

 |  5-minute read |   02-06-2021
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Uttar Pradesh is going to be the most keenly observed Assembly election of 2022. It is a make-or-break election for the BJP, especially Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Ahead of the elections, here are some thoughts for the BJP to reflect upon. 

The 2017 UP Assembly election was fought against the backdrop of demonetisation (perceived as an anti-rich move) and Akhilesh Yadav seizing control of the Samajwadi Party (SP) from his ageing father. Both worked in favour of the BJP. That scenario does not exist now.

main_yogi-adityanath_060221053318.jpg2022 Assembly elections will be a make-or-break one for Yogi Adityanath. (File photo: PTI)

Akhilesh has established control over the party and is raring to get back. CAA protests (including a tough stand by the police) and the Ayodhya Temple issue will result in the Muslim votes going in favour of SP. Yadav is already speaking of returning to power and repaying BJP for their actions sut sameth (with interest). Farmers of western UP could ditch the BJP for the SP or Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal.

Like Sharad Pawar did in Maharashtra, Behen ji Mayawati could spring a surprise since she keeps her cards close to her chest.

Further, Mulayam Singh is now 81 years old. He could well play the emotional card of this being his last election.

While the Yogi government has done well on many fronts (power supply, law and order, infrastructure like building highways), the spate of Covid deaths might undo some of that good work. This is especially because it is the most recent public memory so far in the run-up to the elections. Here are some issues that Yogi needs to be careful about.

Sections of the media might criticise the performance of the Yogi government by cherry-picking data. Vested interests could file public interest litigations to show the government in poor light.

Yogi must not allow such accusations to stick till they become big issues, like the Centre did in case of Rafale, vaccines or the Central Vista. Allegations need to be countered by facts on the ground. It is not to say that all is perfect in UP – there is always scope for improvement. If governments could make life perfect in five years, the world would not need governments.

BJP must not, with the intent of winning, accept any Aaya Ram Gaya Ram into the party on the eve of the elections. This was done in Maharashtra and West Bengal Assembly polls and the party lost credibility. Public anger against the party was expressed at the hustings.

BJP must realise that a government needs at least two terms in a state to show significant change. Modi understood that clearly in 2019, so he planned accordingly. He was humble and flexible with a hectic campaigning schedule. Yogi can learn from Modi. This simple truth was missed by Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra. Also, if your political opponents are out of power for ten years, it demoralises them, especially the party workers and sources of power or the funding drying up.

It is important for the BJP to win UP Assembly elections because of the state’s size, population, the number of Lok Sabha seats and the ability to contribute to the national GDP.

Yogi’s supporters could argue that should he win UP, he become a prime ministerial candidate after Modi. The party and Yogi should not waste time on this issue, because Modi is here to stay. Further, Yogi is yet to prove himself as an able administrator and an election-winning face over a much longer period, say eight to ten years. Remember that Modi also became the PM after being Gujarat CM for 13 years. Being a bachelor (like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi) and a good administrator does not automatically qualify you to become the Prime Minister.

Yogi’s supporters or sections of the media may praise him to the skies, making him and the party overconfident. BJP’s traits of overconfidence and the lack of humility were exploited by Prashant Kishore in the recently held West Bengal Assembly elections. We also saw it in Maharashtra in 2019 and in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. Never take the voter for granted or underestimate your opponents. 

Yogi needs to prepare a report card of his term and his vision or plan for the next five years. It could be a combination of infrastructural projects and day-to-day issues. The plan must state the number of hospitals it would build, oxygen plants, and the construction of airports that it would facilitate.

The incumbent BJP governments must realise that 'Brand Modi' can supplement their voter base, provided they deliver and devise sound local strategies. Holding PM rallies are more effective when backed by a vision for the state. We saw that missing in West Bengal. Pakistan, national security, Article 370 are not issues that concern voters in an Assembly election.

Fresh out of the victory in West Bengal, Prashant Kishore will try hard to do a repeat in UP. After all, everyone wants their claim to fame in history. His moves should be closely watched.

UP has not seen the sort of agricultural distress like Vidarbha in Maharashtra. So Yogi must highlight his government’s support for farmers and agriculture. Taxi drivers from the state tell me that the power situation in UP has improved since the Yogi government. This needs to be highlighted.

One understands that Yogi runs the state through the Chief Minister’s Office. He would now need to carry other (state and alliance) leaders with him and motivate cadres because elections are a collective effort.

It is important for BJP state leaders to realise that Assembly election is more about what an incumbent government has done right while reminding the electorate of how the Opposition made a mess during its rule. Jogging public memory is important because Indians have very short memories.

Roadshows are all fine, but what about the next five years?

Also Read: How Yogi Adityanath has managed India's toughest state - Uttar Pradesh

Writer

Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev Nayyar @nayyarsanjeev

The writer is an independent columnist, travel photojournalist and chartered accountant, and founder of www.esamskriti.com.

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