A day after the civic polls results were announced and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed yet another 'saffron tsunami' in its favour, questions being asked now are whether this muscle flexing, chest thumping and drum beating was justified? The party should, at least, hold the ladoos for a while.
While there is no doubt that the BJP had fared very well in the 16 municipal corporations and has succeeded in getting 14 of its mayoral candidates elected, a closer look at the Nagar Palika Parishad and Nagar Panchayat polls paints the picture which is not too comfortable for the rulings dispensation.
While in most places the BJP may have won, the margins, as compared to the February-March 2017 state assembly polls, have dwindled. Also, the BJP is not the number one seat winner -- the independents are. But what is noticeable is the fact that both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) seem to have done impressively at the hustings.
This is in stark contrast to the drubbing they got at the hands of the BJP in the state assembly polls just eight months back. Of the total corporators -- 1300, for which elections were held in the three-phased urban body polls in November, BJP managed to win 596 while the SP, which is not an urban voter based party has managed to get 202 seats and the BSP got 147 seats in its first outing in the civic polls.
The Congress, which the BJP leaders seldom choose to spare, has also got 110 seats. Of the 198 Chairmen of the Nagar Palika Parishad seats, BJP has won 69 (or 34%) while 45 have been won by the SP, 29 by the BSP and 9 by the Congress.
In the polls for the 5,261 seats in the members of the Nagar Palika Parishad, BJP has won 917 seats (or only 17.5%) followed by the SP (476), BSP (260) and Congress (154). Of the 438 seats of Nagar Panchayat heads BJP has won 100 (or 22.8%) while the SP has got 83, BSP 45 and 17 have been won by the Congress. This is a victory of sorts, but not something to tom-tom about.
The independents have fared very well, but this had largely been ignored by the regional and national media in the first flush. Forty three Nagar Palika chairmen, 182 Nagar Panchayat heads, and 222 corporators are independents and so are 7,229 ward members.
Even the first time entrant into civic polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has made inroads into the polity. AAP won 19 Nagar Panchayat member seats, two Nagar Panchayat chairmen seats and 15 Nagar Palika Parishad memberships. According to the state election commission, the AAP has also managed to win three corporator seats in the urban body polls as well.
The Nagar Panchayat head of AAP have been elected in Tendwari (Banda) and Sahaspur (Bijnore). In the nagar Palika Parishad polls, AAP has won two seats in Jhansi and one in Moradabad. AAP's Vibhu Tripathi has won as a corporator in ward 6 in Lalganj. Haseen Jehan has become corporate from ward 51 in Moradabad.A
Vaibhav Maheshwari, state spokesman of the party told IANS that the "humble beginning with so little resources and cadre is more than heartening". He added that the BJP should definitely be worried about its prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the urban body polls have not been "exactly in their favor" as they are tom-tomming.
What could worry the BJP is also the fact that these results have come after a 50-rally campaign by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, while on the other side no one equal to his stature like Mayawati or Akhilesh Yadav campaigned. The victory has also been rendered bitter by serious allegations of bungling in voter lists and manipulation of EVM's. At many places -- like Meerut, Kanpur, Lucknow -- there have been reports where a candidate who voted for himself, ended up with zero votes, raising questions about the fairness of the poll process.
Mayawati on Saturday made similar accusations and demanded that the 2019 general elections take place on the basis of old, traditional ballot papers. She went on to say that if this happened, the BJP will never return to power ever. Political observers also feel that at many places BJP scraped through by default, as there was no opposition candidate worth the salt.
Another point that the BJP needs to take note of is the fact that it had lost in ward number 68 in Gorakhpur, the ward where the Gorakshnath Peeth, is located. Adityanath is the priest of the Gorakhshnath temple and is said to have considerable clout there. Nadira Khatoon, an independent candidate here defeated BJP's Maya Tripathi by 483 votes.
Overall, in Gorakhpur, BJP won 27 wards, SP 18, BSP 2 and Congress 2. Independents won in 18 seats.
BJP's embarrassment does not end here. The party candidate Prashant Kesari also lost in the home town panchayat of Sirathu. This is the home town panchayat of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
It's not a clean sweep for the BJP, as the party spokespersons my like others to think. What came as a relief for it was that the opposition was in disarray. If the diverse oppposition parties could get their act together, the BJP leaders would be forced to spend sleepless nights ahead of the next polls.