No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.
Some students of mine have felt that there must be an informal discussion circle in the university in which interested students and faculty members can discuss on various topics of current affairs and of national-international importance. This would bring information and somewhat satisfy the natural urge of curiosity and would be equally rewarding to everybody.
I liked the idea very much and at once I requested to my students kindly consider me ‘in’ for the venture. On March 21, after the lunch, we gathered in a classroom and discussed on the varied facets of Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, 2017.
The first round of discussion was started by Kumar Saurabh. He has pointed out that the people of UP has shown deep faith in BJP, especially when BJP had not offered any face to project as a CM.
|Nikesh Kumar Dubey|
Nikesh Kumar Dubey complemented him to say that this phenomenal victory has come after a long gap for BJP as SP and BSP, both had enjoyed the power in full majority and perhaps people has decided to give chance to BJP, this time.
Kulbhaskar Upadhyay came up with many facts and perspectives. He highlighted that BJP has not come into power but with roaring majority which was not anticipated by even dedicated party worker of BJP. He noticed that this victory is big but if one would see it as per vote share; it is not that impressive. According to him, this mandate was clearly against the coalition of SP & Congress, so “UP ko ye sath NAHI pasand hai”. He also said that one could sense this victory even before the conduction of election as in 2014, BJP had gathered maximum number of MPs in Loksabha Election in the same state. This could also be a reason why free voters have not tried Mayawati and they preferred BJP.
Jitendra Sharma started with a humble acceptance that, this election was the first big election which was keenly pursued by him. He stresses that he is not quite aware about the ground realities of the state as he generally has been in urban areas only. Still he knows that Caste is a big factor and dominant parties actually carry base votes with them.
Now, this was my turn in the discussion circle.
I began with some basic facts about the state and this election. First, I pointed out that polity is all about people’s participation. Overall vote percentage of this assembly election is only 3% better compared to the last 2012 assembly election. This is actually a significant concern as UP is the biggest state in population criteria. Each and every year a big chunk of new voters includes in this data, so again; only 3% increase in voting percentage is not satisfactory and this makes scopes for other connotations in order to understand this election and its mandate.
Then, I highlighted the need to understand the election system of India. In our country, ‘First Past the Post System’ is adopted where one can win taking the highest votes even if vote share would be considerably low. In this system actually vote share data has no importance though it would have been most important thing if here ‘Hare System’ would be adopted.
Geographically too, UP is a quite big state. Some parties, notably BSP often talks to disintegrate the state into four divisions. So, in this big state, where even Election Commission had decided to conduct elections into seven phases, so one can win the election only when s/he respects the varied cultures and various demographic patterns of the state. Furthermore, without considering the facts of caste, religion and history of different demographic entities of the state, a successful election campaign cannot be run. BJP has done this; it deserves the credit very well.
This election was unique in a sense that all important parties were at equal level playing field at the beginning. SP had made coalition with Congress, but its internal rifts were marring its chances, plus the anti-incumbency factor. BSP was out of anti-incumbency factor and their base vote was considerably intact, but for unknown reasons, Mayawati did not seem in momentum. Either, she was so complacent or she lost the essential confidence viewing the newer ways of strategies of counterpart parties. BJP had no face to pick from many (in)credible-combating faces and also it had not picked a balanced sheet of candidates, but 2014 LS election was Sanjeevani for it and definitely, BJP has well articulated the mechanism and recorded a huge win.
I tried to explain the phenomena of BJP victory. Actually, BJP had offered no face to avoid any scope of pre-poll rifts within the party and it worked. One one side, BJP had pitched its Hindutuva agenda with loud chorus through speeches, slogans and through not to give a single ticket to Muslim candidate, on the other side, workers of BJP had worked at minute level and succeed to craft a micro-caste management. In this micro-caste-management, they had worked to compile those votes which do not belong to any set vote bank of SP, BSP & Congress; here actually ‘First Past the Post System’ favours BJP.
Though, there is still no valid ground to be suspicious about EVMs and these are efficient tools to conduct elections, but concerns have been raised since the starting of its use. Why am I not ruling out any possibility; because many people from various backgrounds have often expressed worries over it. There can be a high level inquiry set by EC, itself in which inputs can be extracted from everybody and then reports can be put on public domain to end this debate.
Lastly, I tried to analyse the meanings of BJP victory.
On administration front, BJP has better record in the state, so bureaucracy would work in line to leadership and law and order issue is definitely going to be improved which would start from many transfers and suspensions. Development would be top on agenda as 2019 LS election is approaching and the state is containing maximum seats in the country. Development would also be easy to deliver as centre-state relation is going to be hopefully smooth.
Does, this thumping majority also deliver an unwelcome message that UP is going to be run in a way that it would become a Hindu polarised state? This is the concern expressed by many, especially after picking YogiJi as CM for the state. But, actually, BJP has no dire urgency to play this card at least at this juncture. BJP first would try to deliver on development front though superficially if not substantially. It would certainly provide the atmosphere of good governance and would try to be in news always to be seen as in action thanks to 24 hours news channels. To the 2019 LS election, if there would be no concrete success in this way, then it might opt for extremist path.
As Modi model suggests, YogiJi would work on himself to recreate his persona in which his attire automatically would connect Hindutva and his deeds and media portrayals would connect with development. Being from the same city, I can vouch that YogiJi is quite tough in his decision-making capacity and having more active politics experience compared to ModiJi and as very impressive orator with appealing austere image, he would do better and only better.
Here ends, the first round of discussion.
Kumar Saurabh spoke again to start the second round of discussion. He said that in this election, muslims too; voted to BJP but they might have felt betrayed as BJP projected an extremist face as CM. But Kumar was countered by Kulbhaskar, Nikesh and by me. Essentially, we stated that BJP had not given a single ticket to Muslim and BJP had never expected to cater their votes. Also; BJP still would not have received as much votes on which a party can expect a win pitching them as a base votes, so this cannot be said that BJP has cheated Muslims.
In the second round, Nikesh highlighted that this BJP victory has become possible because youth has supported BJP at large scale.
Kulbhaskar started in the second round countering the point that YogiJi’s work is not satisfactory. He pitched for him as he must be given chance to perform before making any bias against him. He tried to compare Benaras and Gorakhpur as both cities are old BJP seats and both cities are old Hindu traditional cities. He pointed out that the decisions taken by YogiJi at very first day in his office offers very positive vibes and seems visionary. According to him, CM Yogi must be different with MP Yogi and time will say the rest.
I have countered Kulbhaskar only on one point that Benaras can be compared with Gorakhpur. Both cities might have some similarities and also both belong to Poorvanchal, but Gorakhpur is not that developed as Benaras. Since last nineteen years, YogiJi has been MP from the city and there are very few concrete things to count on the name of his achievements. But, yes, it does not mean that he has not delivered on expected lines yet then he would never deliver.
I am also of the view that in fact he must be going to deliver with obvious reasons. I have also highlighted one particular thing done by YogiJi on the very first day of his CM office that he directed to officers to study BJP Sankalp Patra (Manifesto) and to make a blueprint to execute it. I am glad that even ModiJi has not shown any concrete respect to manifesto, but YogiJi has done it. Now-a-days almost all parties are actually ignoring the importance of manifesto.
In the last round including me, all participants acknowledged that they learned many new things and perspectives.
One thing we have learnt that in media and TV debates, after the huge win of BJP, all pundits are establishing many naive generalisations as; people of UP has voted cutting across castes and religions or UP has voted keeping only in view the development aspirations or Muslims have voted BJP avoiding SP and BSP or Muslims women have voted against the family choices or dalits have voted BJP barring BSP. Actually, this huge win was possible due to micromanagement of Caste and religions by BJP which failed the vote bank politics of other parties.
In the last, we have appreciated to each other and made consensus to discuss on ‘Ethics and Politcs’ in the next week.
I am happy as a teacher as my students have discussed on the topic very well and I can say easily that the quality of argument put by them is quite competing even to mainstream big analysts of today.
*GDS=Galgotias Discussion Society