A Clear mandate instead of a fractured verdict, the UP electorate has proved every political ‘pundit’ wrong. The BJP has been relegated to the third spot, paying heavily for being instrumental in the formation of the Mulayam Government and later being ‘soft’ on it.
Similarly, the Congress, which supported the Mulayam Government, has been rejected by the voters as they found it too weak to fight the ‘might’ of Mulayam and his men.
Riding the Ram wave, the BJP had polled 31.45 per cent votes to get a clear majority with 221 seats in 1991 elections. In the 1993 polls, it won only 177 seats though its vote percentage went up to 33.30. The downslide continued in 1996 and 2002 Vidhan Sabha elections when it got 32.52 per cent and 28.08 per cent vote share to win only 174 and 88 seats respectively. The tally has further gone down in this election.
A shocked state BJP president Keshari Nath Tripathi, who won last four consecutive elections from Allahabad North seat but lost this time, told Hindustan Times that he himself was unable to understand why people rejected the BJP and voted for the BSP.
Perhaps the Brahmin factor worked in favour of Mayawati, who along with the Congress succeeded in convincing people that it was the BJP which helped Mulayam to become the chief minister and later helped him to continue in power, he felt. People found Mayawati the best bet to effectively deal with Mulayam’s ‘goonda raj’ and voted for her cutting across caste lines, Tripathi added. He, however, did not agree that it was beginning of the end of caste politics.
According to political observers, the BJP paid heavily for intra-party squabbles also. They reminded how, in a calculated move, party’s national president Rajnath Singh washed off his hands from the state politics by projecting Kalyan Singh as chief ministerial candidate, which further fueled bickering within the party right from ticket distribution. The party tried its best to show a united face but within the party everybody was aware about the deep differences among the top state leaders.
The Kalyan factor also did not work as his son too lost from Dibai, a traditional Lodh dominated seat. Kalyan Singh, they felt, had lost his appeal even among the backwards since he helped Mulayam in the Government formation and the general impression was that he was hobnobbing with Mulayam in a discreet manner even after joining back the BJP. It was because of Kalyan Singh’s insistence that Mulayam had regularized the allotment of a palatial Government to a trust run by Kusum Rai, a close lieutenant of Kalyan.
Senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon, however, felt that the main cause of the BSP sweep was that there was no issues and the election was fought on caste calculation. The Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin combination helped the BSP get majority, he said.
According to a senior bureaucrat, Mayawati succeeded in breaking caste barriers projecting herself as a person strong enough to deal with ‘Mulayam’s goons’. This factor coupled with strong anti-incumbency against Mulayam and his Government worked wonders and proved the last nail in the BJP coffin, he added.