A do-or-die battle for the BJP and its rivals

The battle lines have been drawn in the five poll-linked states, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh. How big are the latest electoral battles and what impact will their outcome have on the course of national politics?

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew the three Central Farm Bills with an apology to farmers, initially described as historic initiatives by the Centre. It was followed by a decision to reduce excise duties on petrol and diesel.

As the elections approached, the inauguration of the Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi, where the Prime Minister also bathed in the holy Ganges River, proved to be a spectacular event attended by people across the world. Elsewhere, to make the inauguration of the Purvanchal highway in Uttar Pradesh look grand, Air Force planes performed aerial feats. Furthermore, during the first reshuffle of the second term of the Modi government in the Centre, the list of ministers by caste was revealed when the leaders of backward castes and Dalits were included in the Union cabinet. The opposition camp was not left out. For the first time during the Coronavirus outbreak, its leaders took to the streets to prepare for the ensuing battle.

It is undeniable that Uttar Pradesh, in the heart of Hindi, is the most important of the five states that will go to the polls in February-March. Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur are the other states where assembly polls are held in February-March.

In fact, the Uttar Pradesh election is not just about one state. He actually holds the key to power at the Center. The road to power in New Delhi, as they say, starts from Lucknow. This is why these elections are indeed a big challenge for the BJP’s ‘dual engine’ government in the state. Its results will have a considerable impact on the national political scenario. By the end of this year, Assembly elections will also be held in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, followed next year in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. And then the next Lok Sabha elections are expected to take place in 2024.

It should also be noted that the BJP is in power in about three-quarters of these states and about two-thirds of its MPs also come from these states. Therefore, the process of a litmus test of “dual-engine governments” now begins from the elections in the five states.

Narendra Modi

However, this is more than just a test for the BJP in particular. Elections for the President and Vice-President are scheduled for July-August this year. Therefore, this makes the outcome of these elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, all the more significant. If the number of BJP or NDA MPs decreases, it will directly affect the presidential elections.

Additionally, 73 members of Rajya Sabha will also retire before July this year. In such a situation, any reduction in the number of MPs due to the elections in these five states will alter the composition of the Rajya Sabha, which in turn will affect the presidential and vice-presidential elections. The BJP therefore cannot simply afford to face adversity in these crucial elections.

He must not only simply secure a victory, but win by a wide margin in order to ensure smooth sailing in the President and Vice President polls. A victory by a small margin or a loss will cause big problems for the saffron party.

In fact, the challenge seems greater than that. The year 2025 holds special significance for the BJP and the Sangh Parivar when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will celebrate the centenary of its formation. This is an extremely important step for organizations that pursue the policy of Hindutva. All organizations affiliated with the Sangh Parivar have already started making great preparations to celebrate the centenary of the RSS. Therefore, any setback in these elections at this stage will cause consternation in the Sangh Parivar in general and the BJP in particular.

But is the opposition in good shape to pose a formidable challenge and stop the BJP juggernaut in UP and other states? For the opposition, these elections are more than a fight to do or die. As for the Congress, the country’s main opposition party, this is an opportunity to breathe new life into itself. In these elections, except in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is the main candidate in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

He is already in power in Punjab. The Modi wave failed to penetrate Punjab even in 2014. In 2017, the Northern state elected the Congress government. Four and a half years on, however, it remains to be seen whether the high command’s decision to remove Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and replace him with Charanjit Singh Channi will prove to be a boon or a curse for the left ?

Amarinder Singh has since teamed up with the BJP, but their alliance doesn’t seem to cause much trouble in the state Congress yet. But the Aam Aadmi party and the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha of the various peasant organizations could become a challenge for the Punjab Congress.

If Congress loses power in Punjab this time, it will lose another stronghold, which has kept it afloat in troubled times. Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur were also its traditional strongholds until the BJP seized power by smashing its rulers on a large scale in all three states. Now, Congress faces an uphill battle to reclaim its former strongholds in these elections? If not a comeback, even a decent showing can give him the boost he needs to take on the BJP in the upcoming elections.

These elections are also important for the Congress leadership, especially for Rahul Gandhi. If the party succeeds, challenges to his leadership within the party, especially by G-23 leaders, will ease and his re-election as party president will be easier, which will likely coincide with the party’s organizational elections. in July-August of this year.

Priyanka Gandhi with Rahul GandhiPriyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi

Uttar Pradesh is therefore certainly important for the Congress, because its rebirth in this state can bring it back to life. This is why Priyanka Gandhi has been very active in the state, doing her best to rebuild the base of the organization. She has sought to win over the women by generously giving them tickets, but it may still take some time before she can hope to emerge as the formidable force she once was in Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka also faces the challenge of saving her traditional family seat of Rae Bareli in the 2022 elections and wresting Amethi from the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. She tried to win back the support of key leaders who had left the party earlier.

Uttar Pradesh has also become a battleground for the rest of the opposition, which spares no effort to challenge the BJP led by Yogi Adityanath in the state. For leaders like Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, Jayant Chaudhary of Rashtriya Lok Dal, backward leaders Omprakash Rajbhar, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini, Dara Singh Chauhan, Krishna Patel of Apna Dal (Sonelal), Keshav Maurya of Mahan Dal , it may well be a great opportunity to regain their political ground.

Political observers believe that the opposition must make the most of the feelings of the people emanating from the peasant movement, the rising inflation, unemployment and the problems associated with the alleged neglect of the arrears and the Dalits by the center and the UP government.

Incidents of atrocities against Dalits and other marginalized castes in Hathras and elsewhere seem to have reinforced these sentiments. The Yogi Adityanath government has also faced criticism for its alleged centralized governance style. Several leaders who had joined the BJP after leaving the BSP and SP were reportedly unhappy with the dominance of upper castes in government. Ministers who resigned from the BJP government have recently complained that they have not been given any jobs due to bureaucratic dominance.

Political commentators believe it will be very difficult for the opposition, especially the PS alliance, to bounce back in the near future if they are unable to do so now. This is probably why Akhilesh Yadav has become quite aggressive in attacking BJP in recent days.

Akilesh YadavAkilesh Yadav

As for the BJP, it has the task of keeping its support base intact in these elections. In 2014, the party succeeded in bringing the upper, backward and Dalit castes under its umbrella, giving it an edge over the Mandal and other centrist parties in subsequent polls.

Back then, Narendra Modi said he was called neech (humble) because he was from a backward caste. He had greatly expanded the base of the BJP among the backward castes, the most backward and the Dalits. It had also given the Sangh Parivar an opportunity to expand and forcefully pursue the policy of Hindutva in the heart of Hindi.

In a bid to broaden its political base, the BJP had also embraced Ambedkar and all other backward Dalit leaders while stepping up its attacks on Nehru. From time to time, the rise of radical Hindutva organizations against Mahatma Gandhi can also be said to be part of this policy. But now the party faces a big challenge to keep its base intact among the backwards and the Dalits. This is why the BJP has the highest backlog in its declared candidate list in Uttar Pradesh so far.

Modi is known worldwide as a strong leader, but after the BJP’s defeat in the West Bengal Assembly elections last year, the party has a lot at stake in these elections. It is also an all-out battle for the opposition. Who will ultimately get the People’s Mandate will not be known until March 10.

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