People of Uttar Pradesh
had risen above caste and community affiliations to deliver a mandate in favour of economic development symbolised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Saturday.
He said Modi
had found the widest possible support, including from OBCs
and Dalits, adding, UP voters had come out of the Hindu-Muslim
matrix and wanted economic progress and development. Other BJP
leaders said the party had received votes from the Muslim
community as well.
So incensed was Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati
at her party’s loss that she alleged EVM
(Electronic Voting Machine) fraud. As evidence of this, Mayawati
said it was unbelievable that the BJP
could win in seats where Muslims were in a majority.
It would seem the Modi
agenda and its strategy of reaching out to non-Yadav OBCs
and non-Jatav Dalits
has worked. The BJP, along with ally Apna Dal, had won 73 of the 80 seats in UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with a vote share of 42.3 per cent. It had won 337 of the 403 Assembly segments. The party proved that was no flash in the pan by winning 312 seats with 39.7 per cent.
With both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP
winning around 22 per cent vote share each and the Congress’ seven per cent, the writing is on the wall for these parties that they needed to follow Bihar kind of “grand alliance” to ensure “index of Opposition unity” if they seek to defeat the Modi-led BJP
in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Speculation has intensified on who will be Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. A top BJP
source told Business Standard
that caste might not be the primary determinant in zeroing in on a name. “There’s a lot of talk on the backward castes’ consolidation in our favour. But our social engineering has ceased from today after the results started coming,” the leader said.
The debate over whether UP’s top job would go to a backward class or an upper caste candidate gained currency when the central leaders chose Keshav Prasad Maurya, from the backward caste of Mauryas, to helm the party in the state last year. Maurya was also placed prominently in the phalanx of the BJP
brass in the campaign. It was even assumed that he was a probable CM candidate.
Asked if the candidate would be a Member of Parliament (MP) or a legislator, the source said, “I cannot rule out either.” The cryptic answer could bring Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh into the reckoning. He had indicated in the past that he
was “not interested” in returning to his home state. According to BJP
sources, a possible perception about Singh is that he is seen as a “weighty” leader with the potential of emerging as a power centre parallel to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo, given UP’s primacy in central politics.
Central minister and Gautam Buddha Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma is recognised as another probable candidate, as is Ghazipur MP Manoj Sinha, the telecom minister and junior railway minister.
Another source added a new element to the debate. “PM Modi
is from a backward caste and so is Maurya. We should go in for an upper caste CM to keep the caste balance,” he said. While Sharma is a Brahmin, Sinha is a Bhumihar.
Sinha could emerge as a consensus candidate not only because the PM admires him for his work ethic but Bhumihars are a caste more preponderant in neighbouring Bihar, while they are electorally insignificant in UP. This caste neutrality of Sinha could help him in a battle where rival caste groups, like Brahmins and Thakurs, would compete to get one of their own to occupy the chair. Sources privy to the decision-making
processes in the top BJP
echelon said that, ultimately, Modi
and Shah would do what they did when the party won Haryana and Maharashtra. The BJP’s parliamentary board will meet on Sunday to announce its chief ministers for UP and Uttarakhand.
Samajwadi Party sources said that Mulayam
was expected to convene a meeting immediately after Holi
where the question of Akhilesh
Yadav’s leadership was expected to be resurrected.