There are a few grounds on which a political party can win elections in India. One is the promise, the hope of better governance (which brought the Modi government into power at the Centre in 2014), the second one is good work (which is why the Modi government got elected the second time with a larger mandate in 2019), third is other options are terrible, coupled with faith in the ruling party being way better (which is why BJP has had an uninterrupted winning streak in Gujarat since the late 1990s), fourth is caste politics, freebies (which explains AAP, Samajwadi Party, DMK) and fifth is a government actually fulfilling the promises made.
Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh came to power in 2017 on the promise of development and improving the abject state of law and order in the state. Opinion polls, exit polls have predicted a clean sweep by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Whether they come true tomorrow is something time will tell. However, going by the initial reactions, it seems the exit polls may not be too far off from the actual result.
This, however, has upset the psephologist cum activist cum farmer cum protestor cum columnist cum Sonia Gandhi’s ex-aide cum politician and everything else under the sun, Yogendra Yadav. Yadav, in his column for Shekhar Gupta’s ThePrint, wrote that if BJP wins UP, it will be because ‘it effectively captured popular mindset, not booths’. One would think he is happy that BJP’s victory may be on full honesty and not because of booth capturing, as was widely the case in Lalu Yadav’s Bihar and the UP hinterlands when Samajwadi Party had a freehand. Except, that is not the case.
Yogendra Yadav is distressed (his words) that the forecast shows BJP winning. He is also shocked (his words) that some are projecting 300 plus seats for the BJP. He then points out how the Akhilesh-friendly media might have misinterpreted the crowds at Akhilesh Yadav’s rallies.
Yadav says how his comrades shared stories of BJP being wiped out in Western UP and decimated in Poorvanchal and hence he understands how they must be in shock over exit polls. He’s shocked that despite the coronavirus pandemic followed by the ‘farmer protests’, a ‘mediocre government’ has managed to get popular approval.
Yadav then details how he went to UP and travelled for six weeks and despite all the propaganda created by opposition parties on the farm laws and used the plight of migrant workers during the pandemic for political gains, the voter on the ground still seems to have gone with the BJP. He says how despite issues like unemployment and other issues and complaints people might have had with the Yogi government, they were not quite angry with the government. That everyone except Yadavs, Jatavs and Muslim voters shared a ‘commons sense’.
As per Yadav, people were upset with issues like inflation, job loss due to pandemic, difficulties one faced due to pandemic past two years but they also had the common sense to realise that since pandemic was a global issue, ‘what can the government do about these things?’ Yadav then lists out how the people in UP were happy they got food grains over and above the standard quota because of pandemic and how women feel safer due to improved law and order. “Things would have been worse but for Modiji.” was a standard response Yogendra Yadav got.
So, here, Yadav was met with answers like Modi and Yogi governments (double engine ki sarkar as the campaign has been) has worked effectively and people, including Samajwadi Party voters, were happy with the current dispensation on issues such as law and order. Perhaps Yadav is shocked that for a change a government has done work on the ground for voters and hence voters might be rewarding the government by bringing them back to power.
Yadav then dismisses the voter sentiment as ‘they had made up their minds’ and not really something the government did. Apparently, the campaigns, the advertisements (which every political party worth its freebie does all the time to win elections) is ‘rigging television and phone screens’. “It is not booth capturing, but mindscape capturing, an effective capture of the moral and political common sense,” writes Yadav making effective election campaigning done by the BJP which has resonated with voters appear like it is a crime.
He then gives his friends in media a piece of advice to not stay in an echo chamber and to go out and talk to actual voters because, well, 2024 (general elections) is still two years away.
Effectively, Yogendra Yadav is distressed UP voters chose law and order, fair handling of the pandemic in terms of vaccines, ration and other usual things a voter looks for in elected government and that the propaganda of opposition parties firmly backed and fanned by the mainstream, influential and friendly media failed. And hence, for 2024, the preparations should start from now. Because in the scenario BJP comes back to power for the third time with Modi as Prime Minister, lord knows how many would need to check into facilities for mentally disturbed.
Speaking of the mentally disturbed, we at OpIndia are quite looking forward to the meltdown. Hope our favourites do not disappoint.