Eight seats in Western Uttar Pradesh went to polls on 11 April marking the beginning of a fascinating general election in the highly-competitive and crucial state.
The talk since then has been about the lower voter turnout on these seats. Of the 8 seats, voter turnout rose on two, fell by less than 3% on three seats, and by more than that on three seats.
The assumption being made by people is that a lower turnout doesn’t fare well for the BJP. But that isn’t quite true. Analysing and giving a judgment that a fallen turnout is against the BJP is amateurish and stereotypical. Let’s see why.
Prime Minister Modi’s Impactful Schemes
Prime Minister Modi has done great work in Uttar Pradesh. To give you an idea of how his schemes have worked in the state, I’ll present some figures, but before that I have some points to make:
- NDA got 3.51 crore votes in Uttar Pradesh in 2014
- We can safely assume 3 voters per family
|Ujjwala (LPG connections)||1.29 crore|
|Jan Dhan (accounts)||5.46 crore|
|Awas Yojana Gramin (houses)||12.21 lakh|
|Mudra Yojana (loans)||1.59 crore|
|Soil Health Cards||3.50 crore|
|Toilets Constructed||1.70 crore|
|Saubhagya Connections||79 lakh|
The upliftment of the poor will be a massive factor in these polls. The most considerable aspect is that the implementation of these schemes was done without any bias on the basis of caste or religion. What this does is that it gives BJP the advantage of breaking away traditional voters of BSP and SP who earlier voted exclusively on the basis of caste or religion.If we take the example of Ujjwala Yojana then the number of potential voters the scheme has positively impacted is 3.87 crore at three voters per family, more than the total votes the BJP got in 2014! You can assess the impact of other schemes in a similar manner.
Lack of Enthusiasm Among Muslim Voters
One factor emerging from voting trends from the first phase is that Muslims weren’t as enthusiastic to vote. This might come as a surprise to many but it is a rather logical observation.
In 2014, the opposition parties had driven this fear in the Muslim community that if Narendra Modi comes to power he’ll wreak havoc and there will be immense communal tension. Due to this the Muslim community voted in large numbers in 2014. The last five years have, however, shown that this fear is absolutely unfounded. Prime Minister Modi has on the contrary talked solely of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ which has been completely opposite to the rhetoric of opposition parties in 2014.
The issue of Triple Talaq and the Modi government’s emphasis on the same will surely give the BJP some silent support among Muslim women.
Muslims may still not get out to vote for the BJP but some have seen through the lies that were spread to brainwash them and hence didn’t vote at all which logically points to the lower voter turnout especially on a seat like Kairana.
BJP Voters Have Greater Incentive to Vote
There is no doubt that Prime Minister Modi’s popularity is unprecedented today. In fact, it is much more than 2014 because that was an election reflecting an opinion about the man whereas 2019 is a conviction in him on the basis of what he’s done. He’s taken hard-hitting decisions, and he presents a vision for a developed India. These factors are enough in themselves for BJP supporters to come out and vote heavily.
But there’s one more very crucial factor that will push BJP voters out of their homes to the polling booths. The opposition today isn’t just fractured but also divisive and boasts of having an anti-army, anti-national image. A lack of a pro-India, pro-development opposition creates a fear in BJP voters that they must vote to ensure an absolute majority for their party.
Confused Between Conflicting Ideologies
It is hard to keep a person aligned with one political ideology for a considerable period of time. But in Uttar Pradesh two political rivals have come together simply for survival which will only confuse and disenchant both voters and workers.
Let’s say a person has been voting for the SP for a long time and despises the BSP. One can say that he’s a hardcore SP supporter. Today, the political party he hates has aligned with his party; do you think that’ll go down well with him? Probably not. More so, if the candidate from his seat is a BSP one then the person might not even want to vote.
The same can happen for a voter who chose either the SP or BSP the last time around impressed by the ideology or leader of the party. That was their first vote. Today, he sees that with the alliance becoming a reality, there’s not much of a difference between the party he thought was best and voted for, and the one whom he regarded as not worthy of his vote for a variety of reasons. He may end up not voting or even switch to the BJP.
In simple terms, 100% vote transfer is but impossible for two parties such as the SP and BSP and this’ll hurt the alliance.
Jats Backing the BJP
This time around as well it is being seen that Jats are supporting the BJP. This factor has only been aggravated in favor of the BJP because the alliance is expecting Muslims and Jats to unite under the umbrella of the Mahagathbandhan which is very unlikely to happen as the bitterness of the Muzaffarnagar riots is still fresh in the minds of Jats.
The repercussions of this ill-thought out alliance from the point of view of Jats may well spell doomsday for the tallest Jat leader Ajit Singh from Muzaffarnagar contesting on a MGB ticket.
To put in a succinct manner, here’s why the slightly lower vote share is still advantage BJP:
- Those who’ve benefited from Prime Minister Modi’s schemes will come out to vote wanting the same to continue.
- A lower Muslim turnout plus BJP making some inroads into the community with the development agenda and Triple Talaq issue bodes well for the BJP.
- BJP voters need Narendra Modi to come back, hence, it is safe to assume that despite a reduced vote share, BJP supporters swarmed the polling booths while the lower turnout was due to traditional BSP-SP voters staying home due to disenchantment with the alliance.
- Confused traditional voters of either the SP and BSP will hurt the alliance lowering turnout or will result in shifting of votes to the BJP.
- The impact of air strikes has cut through caste and religion in favor of the BJP and has created significant momentum for Prime Minister Modi.
Of the 8 seats that went to polls on 11 April, 5-6 seats are being seen to have a BJP lead. There aren’t any signs that the MGB is romping to victory anywhere. BJP will obviously not have the kind of leads it did in 2014 but nevertheless it is expected to do very well in this phase in Uttar Pradesh. It can win anywhere between 5-8 seats, meaning it could possibly even replicate 2014!
*Featured Pic courtesy India TV
An author and avid reader, Geopolitics and defence are his favorite topics of discussion. He recently launched his second book a detailed description of Prime Minister Modi’s work titled ‘Rebuilding India’, His first book was ‘A Medley of Short Stories’. You can reach him out on his Twitter id @Vinayak_Jain