Why did BJP under-perform in Uttar Pradesh?

Very rarely does a day come in your life when you feel like a loser despite winning. But if you are a sportsperson, it’s not rare when a win taste bitter. 4th June was such one day for PM Modi and his party BJP. A performance well below expectations but well above the required numbers to form the government. It’s a record that no leader has achieved in current times.

In this below standard win (I am saying below standard because it is well below the expectations of BJP), there is great degree of relief for BJP because opposition is celebrating the loss as if they have reached the crescendo of Indian politics and once you feel that you have reached the top, coming down is only option left for you.

Prime Minister Modi and BJP have shown great agility and flexibility over the years, and this should give confidence to the cadre that they will quickly adapt to the new scenario of coalition government. A champion needs a small window to rise again and make no mistakes, PM Modi like a true champion will rise again to new political heights.

But the results left BJP with many questions and the most prominent one is where they gone wrong in these elections. It cannot be answered overnight but they do have mechanisms to do introspection and come up with strategies to bounce back. As I observe closely, BJP has not done much wrong in the run up to the 2024 elections.

However, the top five mistakes of BJP if you want to call it mistakes were.

  • Candidate selections- There are anti-incumbency against the sitting MPs, at many places but BJP chose to repeat many of these candidates. Both party and MPs were confident that brand Modi will ensure a win for them in LS elections. But unhappiness with the local MP’s worked against them.
  • Giving tickets to turncoats– Many candidates who were given tickets were turncoats which has not gone down well with the party cadres and worked against the BJP. voters of BJP saw them as outsiders who joined the party to get benefited from its growth but don’t subscribe to its ideology. For a party which is based on ideology, it is very important to have ideological synergies.
  • Marketing campaign of 400 paar– This campaign has created reluctance among a section of voters who don’t find reason to vote in the election because they felt that in any case BJP is winning in a big way.
  • Focus on Tamilnadu– PM Narendra Modi and BJP have put half of its energy into Tamilnadu. A state from where hardly any seat was expected to win. As CEO of the party, PM Modi did the right thing. He was keen on expanding the base of BJP in Tamilnadu. He succeeded also as we can largely see a big jump in vote share of BJP in the state. But what it did gave him less time for him to focus on other parts of the country, especially the most politically important state of Uttar Pradesh. As I said earlier, the difference between BJP not gaining majority on its own reflected in its numbers in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Dalit Votes- This is the key reason of BJP under performance in Uttar Pradesh. Over the past decade BJP had successfully broken the caste divide in the state of Uttar Pradesh however this time Samajwadi Party along with Congress reignited caste line voting in the state. Save Constitution campaign run by Congress & Samajwadi party immediately strike major chord with Dalit community in UP villages. They made to feel that BJP if comes to power will the change the constitution written by Dalit icon Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar. Elections are fought on political perception and a few statements by BJP candidates supported the opposition narrative.

There is no doubt that BJP did not achieve a majority on its own because of its under-performance in Uttar Pradesh and to some extent in West Bengal but in rest of the country they performed very well and remained the first preference of the voters.

The bigger concern is that despite losing the elections, the opposition is keen on writing a memorial for the BJP. But with assembly elections round the corner in the later half of the year where opposition parties will fight against each other, opposition alliance disintegration can be just matter of time.

It was March 2007, when India ousted from the world cup post humiliating defeat against Bangladesh but six months later like a true champion, they rose to lift the Twenty20 world cup. BJP is flexible and agile to adapt to the changing scenario and they will make a great turnaround during upcoming assembly elections.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Shantanu Baraskar says:

    Very well said…

  2. Satyendra Singh Rathor says:

    Good one. Abki baar 400 par was taken in consideration by I.N.D.I.A for negative campaigning against BJP (to change in Indian Constitution)

  3. Rahul Singh says:

    Good observation

  4. RD says:

    Don’t forget changes in the constitution also meant that BJP will remove “reservation” this too affected in UP as reservation politics is still very strong in UP. Besides that, this time the real ground force behind BJP, the Sangh was largely ignored by them. It is this ground force that was behind their success in 2019.

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