UP win crucial for Modi ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls
The picture would be clear on March 10 if the much-hyped Modi-Yogi pairing delivered for the party or Akhilesh Yadav proved his detractors wrong by single-handedly winning a big election. India’s political history shows that the party which performs well in UP has the propensity to either form the government at the Centre or play the role of a kingmaker.
With the Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections entering the final phase of polling scheduled on March 7, the pollsters have started speculating about the possible outcome.
On Thursday, March 3, the penultimate sixth phase of polling was held in 57 Assembly constituencies across 10 districts in Eastern UP, including Gorakhpur, the pocket borough of chief minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath.
In the final and seventh phase on Monday, March 7, polling would be held in 54 segments across nine districts, including Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Since the counting of votes would be held on March 10, the results of the UP elections would be clear by the afternoon of the same day.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was expecting an easy ride, was clearly stumped by the vigorous campaigning and canvassing by the Samajwadi Party (SP) led by its president and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.
Not only did the SP rallies garner big crowds of supporters, but Yadav was also frontal in his attack on the BJP and its top leaders including Modi and Yogi. The socialist party also gained sizeable traction in social media.
The media and social media still continue to reverberate with the plausible success of the SP poll management despite the fact that the party lacked a battery of big leaders or strategists other than Yadav himself. The old guard of the party including SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav have no active role to play in the party affairs.
Nonetheless, the BJP leaders in their public meetings and press interactions have been dauntlessly claiming that the party would notch up more than 300 seats in UP to keep pace with its 2017 tally of 325 (with allies).
However, the road of the saffron party looks tougher than it seemed at the start of the UP poll campaign. The perception that SP could well be in a position to form the government in the state is gaining currency with each successive phase.
Apart from Yogi, who is seeking re-election for the BJP, Modi would also be a worried and harried lot over such predictions, considering that the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are merely two years away.
India’s political history shows that the party which performs well in UP has the propensity to either form the government at the Centre or play the role of a kingmaker.
The BJP was propelled to a tally of 282 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls only after winning about 25 per cent or 71 seats in UP alone. This facilitated the formation of a BJP government with the majority helmed by Modi.
Later in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP won more than 300 seats, of which UP contributed 62 seats. This ensured the return of the Modi government to the national political firmament.
Therefore, an adverse mandate for the BJP, even if it means a lower number of seats in UP, would make the path that much stiffer for the saffron party as well as Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha battle.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress (TMC) president Mamata Banerjee together with Akhilesh Yadav campaigned in Varanasi on Thursday to signal her well-laid-out strategy to take on Modi head-on in the run-up to the 2024 elections.
In her rally, she claimed that a rattled BJP had already signalled that the party was on its way out in UP and that SP would form the next state government.
As such, the BJP is treating the UP elections from the prism of 2024 polls as well. The picture would be clear on March 10 if the much-hyped Modi-Yogi pairing delivered for the party or Akhilesh Yadav proved his detractors wrong by single-handedly winning a big election.