Advantage Akhilesh

Advantage Akhilesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces an acid test in Uttar Pradesh with his party facing headwinds as the political chemistry dictates new electoral arithmetic in this key State. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces an acid test in Uttar Pradesh with his party facing headwinds as the political chemistry dictates new electoral arithmetic in this key State.

The BJP’s hopes to cash in on the internal feud in Samajwadi Party fizzled out as the Akhilesh-led faction reigned supreme in the internal party struggle. Meanwhile, the saffron brigade has become the victim of its own electoral machinations.

While the BJP tried to fish in the troubled waters in the palace war in Lucknow, Akhilesh converted the threat into an opportunity by hammering out an alliance with Congress. Not just the BJP’s dreams were shattered, the Congress fortunes blossomed as the new political contours can lead to consolidation of vote banks based upon social formations.

The SP-Congress combine proved to be a formidable platform for the convergence of anti-BJP votes. The Muslim-Dalit vote convergence can prove to be bonanza for the SP-Congress alliance.

The BSP that can swing the Dalit votes in its favour shows no signs of any revival. The absence of traction in BSP camp also worries BJP as it cannot hope for a split in the anti-BJP vote share.

As a result, the anti-BJP vote may rally behind the SP-Congress combine making it a much more formidable choice of UP voters. Being the most populous State, the UP mandate has far-reaching implications for the run-up to the 2019 national elections.

The BJP was hoping on the internecine fight within the SP and the anti-incumbency factor that could adversely impact the chances of Akhilesh-led ruling party. But, the turn of events that ultimately proved Akhilesh the winner helped him gain public sympathy. The BJP is seemingly worried over such prospects at the hustings.

Meanwhile, the BJP also suffers from the uncertainties of possible political fall-out of demonetisation woes and absence of a charismatic State-level leader to challenge Akhilesh. In the age of regional Satraps, this deficiency can hurt the BJP.

Akhilesh camp believes that his government is facing the least anti-incumbency and even this will be overcome due to the victim card he would be playing. However, his government has a mixed record. While it received appreciation for improving power supply and rural road connectivity, the performance in ensuring law and order was a subject of criticism.

As the electoral arena is poised to face a triangular contest, the BJP is beset with the lack of a strong poll ally while its arch-rival could ride the cycle. Alliances are critical for reaping electoral harvest in the age of fractured verdicts and fragmented polity.

The BSP should have normally encashed on the state of flux prevalent during the father-son fight. But, several factors inhibited it from doing so. They include growing disconnect between party supremo Mayawati and the party apparatus. Besides, the party suffered significant desertions.

The BSP in a bid to fight these drawbacks is reviving the slogan of Dalit-Brahmin fraternity causing additional worries to BJP which enjoys upper caste patronage.

As the saffron struggles, it’s ‘Advantage Akhilesh’ at this point of time throwing a challenge to Narendra Modi juggernaut seen confident after the massive mandate of 2014.

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