UP’s opinion polls off the ground but the writing on the wall is getting clearer
Many friends and colleagues advise me not to write about politics. This bothers me because politics and politicians intrude into every nook and cranny of our lives and can only be ignored at our peril. I remember the wise words of Cicero: “You may not be interested in politics, but that doesn’t mean that politics isn’t interested in you.
And so, I’m heading back this week to my home state of Ulta Pradesh, and the upcoming elections there, with my two tracks. The waters of this Indo-Gangetic tub have never been RO grade, but over the past five years have become cesspool grade; it has become the worst-performing state in the country according to Niti Aayog himself, its once-vaunted bureaucracy reduced to seeking favors, its police a raptor-uniformed force.
Yogi and his party could not deliver any tangible results because they were too obsessed with manufacturing hatred and repression on an industrial scale, and public services were rendered dysfunctional. But it would be unfair to single out Yogi alone: his job has not been made easier by Mr Modi’s monumental failures, from outright cover-up to economic destruction, Olympian arrogance, cronyism, blunders pandemics, delusions of grandeur and the encouragement of religious bigotry.
Modi and Shah now have a monumental dilemma in UP – they desperately want to win the state but don’t want Yogi there when they do, lest he present a challenge to the Supreme Leader and Sancho Panza in 2024.
In all likelihood, their first wish will not be granted, the second will be. Even the canine media’s contrived “opinion polls” predict that the BJP will lose between 150 and 170 seats from its 2017 tally, mostly to Akhilesh Yadav. Taking into account a 25% sycophancy margin, this translates to the loss of UP for the party.
It is not only abused farmers or betrayed OBCs or oppressed Dalits who will upset the BJP’s apple cart. This time, young people will form a separate constituency in their own right, transcending parties, castes and religions.
With the highest unemployment rate of any major state, virtually no hiring for the past five years, their protests being suppressed by unimaginable police brutality, they are poised to pose a major threat to the Yogi. The avowed Kshatriya has displayed complete disregard for too many sections of society for too long and will reap the storm on March 10.
Mayawati, with his characteristic opportunistic passivity, hopes to play kingmaker in the event of a deadlocked Assembly. She is likely to be disappointed too – her traditional 20% vote share contains a large proportion of Muslim votes, who are likely to drop her this time in favor of the SP. So will some of his captive Jatav, disappointed by his repeated failure to take a stand on the atrocities committed against the Dalits (as in the Hathras case).
Its vote share could slide to around 14% or 15% – bad news for the BJP. Congress is expected to increase its vote share from the 6% it secured in 2017: it contested just over 100 seats then, but is now battling on 403. If it manages to win around 15-20 seats (a distinct possibility with Priyanka Gandhi’s appeal to female voters), then he can restore the balance in the event of a fractured mandate.