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Kairana Bypoll Results: Modi & BJP’s Fate Hangs in the Balance

With its crushing defeat in Kairana, BJP’s overall narrative has suffered a major setback before 2019.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Kairana Bypoll Results:  Modi & BJP’s Fate Hangs in the Balance

With the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll results dealing a blow to the BJP government, Mr Modi has many a sleepless nights ahead of him. Any claims that Modi made of being the king of Indian voters in 2014 were based on his massive success in Uttar Pradesh (an unprecedented 73 Lok Sabha seats, including two of its ally, Apna Dal).

What was more interesting was the fact that the other seven seats belonged to two families, namely, the Gandhi family and the Mulayam Singh Yadav family. Mayawati and Ajit Singh, two big guns of UP, could not even open their accounts.

Too caught up to read? Listen to it instead.

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BJP Loses Grip on its Bastion

It was the success in UP that catapulted Amit Shah to the BJP president’s chair. The credit for the success in UP was given to him, and he was aptly rewarded. He was hailed as the new ‘Chanakya’ who had galvanised a dead organisation in UP.

He was also praised for creating an amalgamation of castes, adding the most neglected backward castes and the most downtrodden among Dalits to the BJP’s kitty.

It was a runaway success.

When the Assembly elections took place in 2017, a similar formula worked once again, or at least the BJP supporters believed so. They believed that the deadly cocktail of organic combustion of organisation, chemistry of castes and reliability of the religious polarisation did wonders, and the BJP gained numbers that even it had not dreamed of.

But the equation has been changing ever since the talk of a united opposition emerged in UP began. The BJP lost badly in two constituencies held by its stalwarts — CM Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur and Deputy CM Maurya’s Phoolpur.

And now the loss in Kairana is a definite reminder to my friends in the RSS, BJP and the Modi camp that if they lose UP, then Modi is likely to not become the prime minister in 2019. While it is true that predictions are dangerous in politics and things can change every few days, but as of now, Modi should be a worried man.

Myths Busted Through Kairana Bypoll

  1. The myth that the BJP is invincible. The belief that the Modi-Shah combine can’t be defeated has been crushed after the Karnataka Assembly elections. Now it can be safely said that not only can they be defeated, they can also be taught a few lessons in politics.
  2. There has been a definite plan to communalise the Hindu population, and to a certain extent, Modi and the Sangh Parivar have been successful. There is a definite change in the mindset of a section of the Hindu community towards the Muslims. Modi and the BJP successfully exploited the social fault-lines to their advantage. But Kairana has proved that this strategy has its limits, and beyond a point won’t give them electoral dividends.
  3. The myth that all Dalits excepts Jatavs (a sub-caste), and all OBCs (Other Backward Castes) except Yadavs can be lured into the Hindutva-fold. The BJP/RSS worked among these castes for long and also managed to succeed in luring them. But the 2018 Kairana bypoll result proves that it would be too far-fetched an idea to imagine that these castes have made a permanent affiliation with the Hindutva brigade.
  4. It was feared that a Muslim candidate would give the RSS/BJP leeway to mobilise Hindus to vote en bloc. Therefore, in Kairana, the choice of Tabassum as a candidate was frowned upon by a few. Her victory, however, proves that things may work differently on the ground.
  5. After the 2014 Parliamentary polls, it was said that the riots in Muzaffarnagar were the prime reason for Jats voting for the BJP. This area was not known for communal tensions but the riots broke all bonds between Muslims and Jats. In this election, there have been reports that both the communities realised their folly and decided not to be swayed by communal politics.
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BJP’s Communal Agenda Has Been Exposed

It was in Kairana that Hukum Singh, father of the BJP candidate Mriganka Singh, who spread the rumour before the Assembly elections that Hindus had been forced to leave their ancestral homes en masse because of Muslims. Although he later tried to take back his words, the damage was done. The major leaders of the BJP had by then taken the entire anti-Muslim campaign to another level.

Today, BJP seems thoroughly exposed. The communal agenda has not worked despite Yogi Adityanath, the poster boy of Hindutva, taking charge of the crucial state. Kairana not only proved that Yogi has limited talent as a leader, but also that caste is a better marker for identity politics than religion.

Now the question is, can Modi be defeated in UP? Can opposition parties in UP work in tandem? Can they move past their petty differences to win the bigger battle?

Frankly, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Ajit Singh don’t have much time left to decide. The people of UP have given them enough hints. They just have to embrace each other, not just for the people of UP, but for their own survival. If Akhilesh, Mayawati and Ajit fight separately, their future will be doomed.

The message after Gorakhpur, Phoolpur and Kairana bypolls is simple: united, you rule — divided, you fall. In the present scenario. If the opposition comes together in UP, no matter what ploy the BJP adopts, it won’t be able to get even half the seats.

If that happens, Modi will have a tough time trying to get a majority on his own.

BJP is not only the present incumbent party at the Centre, it is also the ruling party in every North Indian state except Punjab and Delhi. So double anti-incumbency is bound to work against the BJP. With the loss of almost 40 seats in UP, the question is, can Modi cross the mark of 225 seats in the Lok Sabha?

(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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