UP Civic Polls: BJP Distributing Ladoos Prematurely
It’s not a clean sweep for BJP in the UP civic polls, despite what the party spokespersons say, writes Mohit Dubey.
A day after the Uttar Pradesh civic polls results were announced, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed yet another 'saffron tsunami' in its favor, questions being asked now are whether this muscle-flexing, chest-thumping and drum-beating was justified. The party should, at least, hold the ladoos for a while.
While there is no doubt that the BJP fared very well in the 16 municipal corporations, and has succeeded in getting 14 of its mayoral candidates elected, a closer look at the Nagar Palika Parishad and Nagar Panchayat polls paints a picture that isn’t too comfortable for the ruling dispensation.
Results are Nothing to Tom-Tom About
In most places the BJP may have won, the margins have dwindled as compared to the February-March 2017 state assembly polls. Also, the BJP is not the number one seat winner – the independents are. Significantly, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) seem to have done impressively at the hustings.
This is in stark contrast to the drubbing they got at the hands of the BJP in the state assembly polls just eight months ago. Of the total corporators, 1300, for which elections were held in the three-phased urban body polls in November, the BJP managed to win 596. On the other hand, the SP, which is not an urban voter-based party, managed to get 202 seats, while the BSP got 147 seats in its first outing in the civic polls.
The Congress, which the BJP leaders seldom choose to spare, got 110 seats. Of the 198 chairmen of the Nagar Palika Parishad seats, the BJP won 69 (or 34 percent) while 45 have been won by the SP, 29 by the BSP, and 9 by the Congress.
In the polls for the 5,261 seats in the members of the Nagar Palika Parishad, the BJP won 917 seats (or only 17.5 percent), followed by the SP (476), BSP (260) and Congress (154).
Of the 438 seats of Nagar Panchayat heads, the BJP won 100 (or 22.8 percent), while the SP has got 83 and the BSP 45, while 17 have been won by the Congress. This is a victory of sorts, but not something to tom-tom about.
The independents have fared well, but this was largely ignored by the regional and national media in the first flush. Forty three Nagar Palika chairmen, 182 Nagar Panchayat heads, and 222 corporators are independents, as are 7,229 ward members.
Even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the first time entrant into civic polls, made inroads into the polity. AAP won 19 Nagar Panchayat member seats, two Nagar Panchayat chairmen seats and 15 Nagar Palika Parishad memberships. According to the state election commission, the AAP has also managed to win three corporator seats in the urban body polls as well.
The Nagar Panchayat head of AAP have been elected in Tendwari (Banda) and Sahaspur (Bijnore). In the Nagar Palika Parishad polls, AAP won two seats in Jhansi and one in Moradabad. AAP's Vibhu Tripathi won as a corporator in ward 6 in Lalganj. Haseen Jehan won from ward 51 in Moradabad.
A Bitter Victory
Vaibhav Maheshwari, state spokesman of the party, told IANS: "humble beginning with so little resources and cadre is more than heartening". He added that the BJP should definitely be worried about its prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the urban body polls have not been "exactly in their favor" as they are tom-tomming.
What could worry the BJP is also the fact that these results have come after a 50-rally campaign by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, while no opponent of his stature, like Mayawati or Akhilesh Yadav, campaigned for their respective parties.
The victory has also been rendered bitter by the serious allegations of bungling in voter lists and manipulation of EVMs. At many places – like Meerut, Kanpur, Lucknow – there have been reports where a candidate who voted for himself, ended up with zero votes, raising questions about the fairness of the poll process.
Mayawati, on 2 December, made similar accusations and demanded that the 2019 general elections take place on the basis of old, traditional ballot papers. She went on to say that if this happened, the BJP would not return to power. Political observers also feel that at many places, the BJP scraped through by default, as there was no opposition candidate worth his/her salt.
Another point that the BJP needs to take note of is the fact that it had lost in ward number 68 in Gorakhpur, the ward where the Goraknath Peeth is located. Adityanath is the priest of the Gorakhnath temple and is said to have considerable clout there. Nadira Khatoon, an independent candidate, defeated BJP's Maya Tripathi by 483 votes.
Not a Clean Sweep for the BJP
Overall, in Gorakhpur, the BJP won 27 wards, the SP 18, the BSP two and the Congress two. Independents won in 18 seats. The BJP’s embarrassment does not end here. The party candidate Prashant Kesari also lost in the home town panchayat of Sirathu. This is the home town panchayat of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
It's not a clean sweep for the BJP, as the party spokespersons may like others to think. But if the diverse opposition parties could get their act together, the BJP leaders would be forced to spend sleepless nights ahead of the next polls.
(This story has been published in an arrangement witth IANS. Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com. The views expressed above are of the author’s own and The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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