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OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
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Mayawati’s strategy of sewing up rainbow coalition, particularly wooing Brahmins and other upper castes, appeared to have paid rich dividends to BSP. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was poised to take power in Uttar Pradesh after pulling off a spectacular showing on Friday in Assembly elections. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has conceded defeat and tendered his resignation. The BJP’s central office in New Delhi was silent on Friday as the vote count in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections showed the saffron party’s decline after a worse than ever performance. It now looks like Mayawati will not need anyone’s support to form the government getting very close to the half way mark.

Offstumped attempts to get beneath headlines to understand what happened.

First Offstumped must throw a bulk of its predictions out of the window. By handing Mayawati a near majority, the Indian voter has once again proven to us that he or she has a mind of their own and a sound one at that which will not be easily lead away by pollsters and pundits unlike most western democracies like the United States. This victory for the BSP is a triumph for the vibrancy of Indian Democracy. It may not be the most mature but it definitely is by no means stagnant. It does not lend itself to stereotypes and templates that are frozen in time, in fact if anything this election has probably swept away atleast a few templates that defined elections in U.P. while bringing in a few fresh ones.

While we await detailed seat by seat vote shares to know which templates remain, which have fallen by the wayside, and what new templates have emerged, one can glean a few leading indicators from the seat shares so far.

First the biggest story of this election. The BSP which started the election with very little strength only 56 safe seats and about 38 tossups with a natural advantage is now hovering around 198. This means the BSP picked about 104 seats which perhaps includes a majority of all tossups and also includes 30 safe seats from the BJP. In Offstumped final analysis we had speculated on this scenario but alas we where limited by our imagination to a figure of 175, the BSP went well past that striking distance to actually move in to Lucknow.

The other story here is the BJP denting its strongholds to go down instead of moving up. While we need to get to the actual vote shares by seats to know exactly what happened seat by seat, it is safe to assume that Muslim vote did not fragment to favour the BJP in the tossups. It is also safe to assume that in seats that had a history of throwing out incumbents and favoring BJP in cyclicals, that anti-incumbency operated in a different way to favor the BSP over the BJP. It is also safe to assume that the low turnouts in traditional BJP strongholds may have turned assured majorities into tossup marginals. How many of all 3 of the above will have to await detailed analysis.

The larger message for the BJP however is very clear. The Kalyan Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Kesrinath Tripathi, Vinay Katiyar, Lalji Tandon era is over. For far too long these dinosaurs have defined the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh was by no stretch of the imagination a Nitish Kumar. He failed to enthuse his own base to positively impact turnouts nor did he help himself with a new vision or outlook for UP.

It is time for a generational changein the BJP in UP, perhaps a Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi should be challenged to take up the cudgels of the state party. It is also time for fresh bold thinking. Offstumped had earlier argued for tri-furcating UP into 3 smaller states to be the BJP’s plank for the future. The stability and performance of Mayawati’s BSP government should be a key determinant on the BJP pursuing this strategy.

The Rahul Gandhi factor seems to have not had a dramatic impact for the Congress, we will wait and see where and how much of a factor he was. It was apalling to see how a jaded Prannoy Roy has reduced the NDTV to a Congress mouthpiece with his repeated fingering of the CEC on the CD Issue, and the amount of facetime and friendly backslapping the likes of Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi got despite their irrelvance to the grand scheme of things in Uttar Pradesh. The mainstream english media in India is going down the same illogical path like their cousins in the U.S.A., it wont be long before a Fox news emerges in India. Right of Center blogs including this one are a step in that direction.

Offstumped Bottomline: Bravo India Voter, you have kept the democracy vibrant and beyond the grasp of exit polls, opinion polls and psephological templates. Bravo Mayawati you have definitely thrown conventional political wisdom out of the window by not releasing a manifesto and barely campaigning. The focus now will be firmly on how you keep your flock together and get them to look beyond a mutually shared hatred of Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh. The focus will also be on if you have the right stuff to be a positive influence on National Politics.

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