Modi's pro-poor narrative did the trick, feels BJP

Jon Howard
March 13, 2017

NEW DELHI-India's governing Hindu nationalist party was heading for major victories Saturday in key state legislature elections that are seen as a referendum on the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's almost 3-year-old government.

The BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate in the state - despite one in five following Islam - underscoring its "majoritarian outlook", Thakurta said.

The main opposition Congress party is heading for a consolation victory in Punjab state, where it is leading in 69 of 117 seats.

"The victories in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand have reconfirmed that Modi is the most dominant political leader", P Chidambaram, a former minister in the Congress government and Modi critic, told DW. As results emerged from the early 2017 state assembly elections, it quickly became clear that he had decimated his political adversaries in ways that are hard to even describe. regional parties are left scurrying for cover while the main national opposition party, the Indian National Congress, has lost so badly that it's not even pretending to be in competition. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was expected to resign later on Saturday. The BJP has already poached, in the run-up to the election, one big name BSP leader, Swami Prasad Maurya.

How indeed. The BJP, which won 312 out of 403 seats, increased its vote share this year to 39.7 percent from 14.7 percent in 2012 - a leap of 25 percentage points.

The brute majority with which the BJP steamrolled its opponents, which include the alliance of the regional Samajawadi Party and Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party, has strengthened Prime Minister Modi's claim to a second term in 2019.

BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the perception that BJP was a party of upper castes has been demolished as all sections of the society, including Dalits and Muslims, voted for it in UP.

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While BJP leaders maintained it was Mr Modi's popularity and development agenda that won the elections, analysts noted that a consolidation of the Hindu voteaided the Hindu nationalist party.

Uttarakhand 2012Various Exit Polls predicted a close fight between the BJP and the Congress party. He said, BJP will work with readiness and dedication. The saffron party had formed a government in the state in the 1990s by engineering defections in the BSP and the Congress.

Referring to the Punjab Assembly polls result, where his party has got a clear majority, he said, "You must understand that no one has decimated the Congress in this election. we have both failures and victories".

Dr Aftab Alam, of the Uttar Pradesh-based Aligarh Muslim University, said the BJP kept saying Muslims were uniting against the party.

"The Samajwadi Party wholeheartedly accepts the verdict of the people of Uttar Pradesh", spokesman Ghanshyam Tiwari said, conceding defeat. He is the first leader to take banks to the unbanked, make modern fuel accessible for impoverished rural women, build toilets in their homes, bring them within the insurance perimeter, and give loans to rural youths. Leading figures from the Muslim community in Varanasi told Scroll.in that they had been canvassing support for Mayawati for the past several months as they believed that a Dalit-Muslim combination was a winning formula and would certainly defeat the BJP. Nitish Kumar-led alliance bagged 178 of the 243 Bihar Assembly seats.

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh won from Thoubal Assembly seat by a margin of 10,400 votes.

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