Lucknow: The election in five states including Uttar Pradesh this year is a semi-final. It is a referendum on note-ban. The UP result will indicate which way the wind will blow during the next parliament election. These are some of the screaming newspaper headlines which have appeared before the polls.
Going by results, it is more than clear that by and large people were in favour of note-ban and in agreement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And if it was the semi-final and it could impact the final in 2019, Modi will win the parliament election hands down.
Uttar Pradesh because of its population and number of parliamentary seats was crucial for the party in this election and will be crucial in the next Lok Sabha election . The victory in the state, therefore, has been a morale booster for the party which was lying low after defeat in Bihar and Delhi.
While it has rejuvenated the BJP, the election result in UP has saddened new Samjwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati. Both had tried something new this time and made a departure from the past. The new experiment has totally failed.
For a change, while the SP allied with the Congress for the first time before the polls, Myawati preferred Muslims to Dalits in the hope that it will enable her to come back to power after ten years. It was not appreciated by Dalits, her traditional supporters, and majority of them voted for the BJP.
On the other hand Muslim votes which she hoped to get went to the SP in good numbers, denying her an advantage.
The BJP cashed the Muslim appeasement by these two parties by uniting Hindus. It pushed in known anti-Muslims who campaigned aggressively in the areas where the party was weak.
It was because of this that even in constituencies where Dalits and Muslims were in dominant position the BJP candidates won. Polarization helped the party mainly in the western and central regions where it was most needed.
The rivals made a few other mistakes. The note-ban had the support of majority of people, even those who did not gain anything. But both the parties made it an election issue.The SP, in fact, moved a step further and announced ex-gratia payment of Rs two lakh each to those who died in bank queues.
Mayawati too had found it an useful propaganda material. It has created immense hardship for farmers, poor and labourers she claimed time and again. The SP ally, Congress too tried to make much of it. Notebandi has helped only a handful of industrialists close to Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was often heard complaining.
Voters did not agree with any one of them.The result is there for every one to see. The BJP is back to power in the state after 14 years.The party has unseated the Congress in Uttarakhand and vastly improved its vote share in Manipur where it had negligible presence. In the other two states of Goa and Punjab the party has suffered, but only marginally.