Uttar Pradesh has a lot of political significance. It is often referred as ‘Mini’ Bharat as it is the most populous state and the fifth largest state in the country in terms of area. As UP is going to face its Assembly elections between February 10 to March 7, 2022, naturally all eyes are on it. Since Yogi Adityanath-led BJP is reigning the state, and Yogi is positioning as the future PM of the country, these set up for a major political significance for its Assembly polls. Will BJP retain UP? Will the Hindutva wave that propelled BJP for a spectacular victory in 2017 be repeated? The answers seem to be not in favour of the saffron party.
It is well known that caste factors play a dominant role in UP. From Mauryas to Nonias to Jats to Rajbhars, these castes have a significant role in deciding UP results. As per the ground reports, the Backward Castes (OBCs) are deserting the ruling BJP. They are inclined towards the Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan who lead Maurya and Nonia communities respectively have joined Akhilesh Yadav.
In 2017, Akhliesh had failed to break the perception that SP is ‘only’ a Muslim-Yadav party. BJP had successfully done the social engineering by convincing all the non-Yadav communities to support it. This had led to Akhilesh Yadav’s defeat in 2017.
But the situation today has changed. Akhilesh this time has managed to lure the smaller parties with localized influences towards his party. Sharad Pawar’s NCP has also struck an alliance with SP. Several smaller caste-based parties with localized influence were formed for better negotiation. These were largely with SP. And of course, he has the traditional vote base of Muslims and Yadavs.
BJP too had forged its alliance with seven smaller caste-based parties and tried its best to mitigate the political damage. But the impact of BJP’s alliances are not high, says the political pundits. BJP has an alliance with Prithviraj Jan Shakti Party which focuses on Nonias. However, Dara Singh Chauhan is the tallest leader of the Nonia community who is supporting Akhilesh.
Given this scenario, it is not easy for Yogi Adityanath-led BJP to sail through this time. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who were successful in social engineering in 2014, are now perplexed over the complexities and challenges UP is throwing at them. BJP-RSS is trying its best to create a meta Hindu identity but the differences within OBCs may hamper this. Shiv Sena is also going to contest alone in UP. But it is going to affect the BJP’s prospects only. Sena’s Sanjay Raut stated that UP politics are set for change. Statements like these are only going to do damage to BJP. On the whole, BJP is going to face its toughest battle in forthcoming UP Assembly elections.