The massive three-fourth majority—311 seats out of 403—that the Bharatiya Janata Party won in Uttar Pradesh assembly is reminiscent of a similar feat achieved by Congress nearly four decades ago. BJP had just been born then.
In 1980, when the saffron outfit was formed out the Jana Sangh, Congress, riding on then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s leadership—just as BJP has done now under Narendra Modi—went on to win 309 seats in the state.
Then undivided Uttar Pradesh was the largest state in the country, with 425 seats. After Uttarakhand was carved out UP’s northern hill districts in 2000, its assembly shrunk to 403 constituencies.
By the new majority mark—201—BJP’s victory is bigger than the Congress’s in 1980. Congress, however, had to change its chief minister five times in as many years.
Back then, BJP contested on 400 seats but won only 11. In the next election, in 1985, its tally improved marginally to 16.
Riding on the Ram temple movement, spurred by police firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya in November 1990, BJP tasted victory for the first time in Uttar Pradesh in 1991. Their tally then was only 221.
For years since 1991, UP has been in a political flux, with no party getting an absolute majority. Chief ministers ruled on crutches supported by other parties.
The trend was reversed in 2007, 16 years later, when Bahujan Samaj Party won 206 seats.
Political commentators say in 2017, the Modi wave that swept the state in 2014 general elections continued into 2017.
But two days before the results validated this, incumbent chief minister Akhilesh Yadav sent overtures to Mayawati for a tie-up as a pre-emptive measure against a possible proxy rule by the Centre by imposing the President’s rule.
Some exit polls also predicted a hung Assembly, sparking fears of the return of political instability of the 1990s, but the results on Saturday proved everyone, even the exit polls, wrong.
People, who had silently voted for BJP knew they wouldn’t let the coalition culture return to the state.