Uttar Pradesh will test the limits of Moditva
Its impact was not quite pronounced in the first three phases of elections for 209 of the total 403 seats. Only a sweeping effect in the remaining phases can give the BJP the numbers to form the government in UP after a gap of 14 yearsauthors Updated: Mar 03, 2017 20:18 IST
The Uttar Pradesh elections are a litmus test for Moditva, a phenomenon that has dominated the political discourse in India since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It is shaping into a political ideology of sorts, a creed with millions of followers. Travel around Uttar Pradesh and you come across many who swear by it.
Priyanka Singh, an engineering aspirant and third year BSc student at Women’s College, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), will vote for Modi (read BJP) because of his Make in India and Digital India initiatives. Tanu, an MSc student at the BHU, prefers him because “only Muslims and Yadavs get jobs” in Akhilesh Yadav’s regime. Sharat of Hansipur, in Mirzapur district is upset with BJP ally Anupriya Patel for doing “nothing” for her Lok Sabha constituency. He will, however, give Modi “a chance”.
As the poll theatre moves from western to eastern UP, there is a familiar ring to the “ab ki baar, Modi sarkar” slogan. There are many who are inclined to buy the BJP’s charges of minority appeasement against the Samajwadi Party government. But there are also others who appreciate its 24x7 helpline services and Akhilesh’s candour and clean image.
What is striking is the near-blind faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Most of those who swear by him cannot name a leader who Modi can nominate as CM and who would turn things around.
It’s tempting to link this belief with Hindutva and cite the controversial, communally polarising pronouncements of Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and others. But there is more to it.
Moditva does have its moorings in Hindutva but it’s more evolved and much more refined. Its proponents are tech-savvy and communicate in the language that Gen Next understands. Questions about specific achievements of the Make in India initiative, surgical strikes or demonetisation might not elicit cogent answers, but they are matters of great pride to people who have no expectations from the political class any more.
Yet, UP might test the limits of Moditva.
Its impact was not quite pronounced in the first three phases of elections for 209 of the total 403 seats. Only a sweep effect in the remaining phases can give the BJP the numbers to form the government in UP after a gap of 14 years.
Most of the constituencies are witnessing a triangular contest, which gives the BJP an edge. But caste dynamics in different constituencies and the popularity of individual candidates remain unpredictable determinants. While the BSP and SP-Congress have been wooing Muslims to add to their respective Dalit and Yadav vote-banks, there is discernible support for the BJP among non-Yadav OBCs and upper castes.
In Varanasi’s Pindra constituency, for instance, the BJP has fielded a candidate who unsuccessfully contested against Congress MLA Ajai Rai several times in the past. Pindra has a significant number of Patel voters and therefore, the BSP has fielded a Patel candidate. Ramashray Verma, a Patel from Deoria village, claims that even women in his family stop to watch TV when Modi speaks but is non-committal on whether he would vote for the BJP or the candidate of his caste. Similar dilemmas have confronted voters across constituencies in UP.
How they resolve them will decide the winner in UP.