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Big UP Win Has Answered More Than One Question For BJP

The UP Lok Sabha verdict is an emphatic assertion of his leadership - both within and outside - by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:March 11, 2017, 9:59 PM IST
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Big UP Win Has Answered More Than One Question For BJP
A supporter of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrates after learning of the initial poll results at the party headquarters in Bengaluru on March 11, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
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New Delhi: Sunil Bansal had poured warm milk into a bowl of corn flakes when a worker rushed in to apprise Amit Shah's key aide in UP of the latest trends. It was only thirty minutes past eight, and a quiet and composed Bansal told the exited worker to calm down.

"Only postal ballots have been counted," he said.

By the time he had finished his breakfast, BJP had taken an unassailable lead over SP and BSP in UP, which obviously prompted a question about the next chief minister of UP.

"Parliamentary Board will decide that. But it's a huge responsibility especially in the run up to the next Lok Sabha polls," he said.

It was clear that in this hour of victory, the Sangh pracharak from the ABVP stock had his eyes clearly on general elections 2019.

In the next Lok Sabha polls, BJP would be facing the electorate with an incumbency of 73 LS MPs and over three hundred MLAs. The party would have had completed 5 years in power at the Centre and almost two years in UP.

But all that notwithstanding, the UP Lok Sabha verdict is an emphatic assertion of his leadership - both within and outside - by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is much beyond any referendum on just demonetisation. If the BJP today is being seen as a party of not just the urban and upper caste India, it alludes towards a paradigm shift in the political arena.

The aam-aadmi space was something which Congress, for many decades, has well appropriated to itself. The grand old party this elections seems to have got a lifeline in Punjab and probably Goa, but for the Congress the current political situation presents an existential crisis like never before. Kejriwal will be off the back for a while now, but in politics, as in life, there is no vaccum.

And if it indeed is an existential crisis, Congress has to decide why it is in the business of politics. The UP outcome only diminishes its utility as a junior alliance partner to regional parties. The resume thus far - from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu - is not very encouraging.

ALSO READ | Uttarakhand Polls 2017: How BJP Got its Act Together in The State

Congress' USP has been its centrist positioning in the national politics. It has in the past demonstrated great flexibility to take both the Left and the Right of the centre along.

But in the last five years it seems to have taken such a decisive step towards the Left leaving lots of free space for the BJP to fill in. Congress's strength in the LS today is commensurate with that of the Left in the Indian polity.

The party will be facing its next electoral test in Karnataka soon. A resurgent BJP under Yeddyurappa is rearing to take another shot at power. But the biggest challenge for the Congress in the run up to the next general elections would be the three states of Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh. In all these provinces Congress faces a direct challenge from the BJP. And, of late, Congress has shown signs of fatigue in taking on the BJP in a direct contest.

As for the two regional parties in UP, SP seems to be better placed to survive the shock defeat. Akhilesh Yadav has been in power for five years. His party will be the main opposition to the BJP in the Assembly.

But for Mayawati, this is the third rejection in five years that she has had to face from the electorate. Its social base is shrinking. With this strength, BSP will not be able to send even a single MP to the RS in the future.

BSP will have to think fast, and BSP will have to think beyond caste. BSP president Kanshi Ram for one never shied away from experimenting. In the last ten years there have been many occasions BSP could have participated in government outside UP by lending support. But that has not happened. BSP today in UP faces the threat of being reduced to a mere repository of Jatav votes.

On the contrary, the BJP after 15 years of vanvaas has been successful in getting its caste arithmetic right. In the process, the party has settled on one more issue: the next Presidential Election.

ALSO READ: In Manipur, BJP Makes a Giant Leap

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