Bharatiya Janata Party, riding high on Modi wave, swept across Uttar Pradesh. Winning over a three-fourth majority in the political powerhouse of India is an unprecedented achievement in recent history, and the credit goes to Brand Narendra Modi. PM Modi’s achievement has left even his Opposition awestruck.
But what if BJP had failed to win Uttar Pradesh? What if Modi wave had failed to weave its magic in the hearts of UP people? Let us have a look at the 10 possible attacks by Opposition on PM Modi-Amit Shah duo would have faced if BJP had lost UP elections.
1. Modi wave is fading: PM Modi has single-handedly led BJP to victory not only in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but also in seven state elections post assuming the post of prime minister. But every time he enters the campaign area ahead of polls, his critics question the longevity of his charisma. If he had failed to win BJP majority in UP, the first remark would have been – Modi wave is fading now.
2. Demonetisation effect: Currency ban was a major financial and political gamble played by PM Modi. While the ban on 87 per cent of liquid currency at the time created a huge amount of trouble for people in general, PM Modi held steadfast in claiming that it was a move to root out corruption and black money from Indian economy. A claim that paid off in the end. But if it hadn’t, Opposition would have seen BJP loss in UP as validation of demon-etisation.
3. Time for Amit Shah to quit: BJP President came under heavy criticism when the party lost elections in Delhi assembly elections in 2015 and subsequently in Bihar later that year. He was held responsible for faulty campaigns and lack for a face in party promotion. But nevertheless, it seems that no CM-candidate pre-result policy continues to pay off. And as for Amit Shah, it seems highly unlikely that he is going anywhere anytime soon.
4. PM Modi should conduct roadshows: Modi’s intense roadshow and rally schedule in Varanasi was criticised heavily by Opposition as well as some faction of his own party. Many termed such an elaborate campaign by a prime minister a waste of public time and money and others termed his speeches too below the belt and ‘low’ in content in view of his office. But a win at ballot has silenced all allegations and opinions in a smooth strike.
5. No CM face in UP: BJP maintained the party strategy of not floating any CM candidate before results are declared. This strategy runs risk but has paid off most of the time. With at least 14 cabinet ministers from UP, BJP has had many major faces to choose from. But now that elections are over, BJP seems to be inclining to choose between Rajnath Singh, Yogi Adityanath or Keshav Maurya.
6. Hindu polarisation: PM Modi’s comment on graveyards and cemeteries in UP villages drew flak from all parties in the fray. Opposition parties, including SP and BSP, criticised Modi for deliberating polarising the campaign in favour of Hindu population and marginalising the Muslims. But the BJP has proved all critics wrong by winning a majority at Muslim-dominated seats in UP assembly.
7. Youth fans of Modi fading away: Outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav won last election largely on the promise of a young CM and a vibrant government. But the youth vote turned in the favour of development-oriented Modi govt in 2014 general elections. In 2017, youth voters had to choose between Modi and Akhilesh and it seems they chose to go to with Modi. If BJP had lost, political pundits would have said that Modi is not the favourite of UP’s youth anymore.
8. Pack your bags for 2019: Uttar Pradesh polls are always sighted as an indicator for next Lok Sabha elections. If BJP had lost the UP polls, Opposition would have seen it as a sign that BJP and with it PM Modi will be overthrown in 2019. Instead, now that BJP has swept the state, Opposition leaders like Omar Abdullah and Chidambaram have accepted that parties should now look to 2024 for any hope instead.
9. Outsiders not allowed in UP: BJP may have 14 cabinet ministers from Uttara Pradesh but it barely has enough faces to compete with Samajwadi Party or Bahujan Samaj Party in the state. With Gujarati PM Modi at the helm of the campaign, a defeat in Assembly elections would have drawn comments like ‘outsiders not allowed’. But PM Modi not only ensured a victory in all eight seats of his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi but also ensured saffron victory all over. UP seems to have accepted PM Modi as one of its own.
10. Mahagathbandhan key to defeating BJP: An alliance of RLD, JDU and Congress proved key to beating Modi wave in Bihar in 2016. But the same formula failed to replicate the effect in Uttar Pradesh. Samajwadi Party and Congress alliance have done more damage than good to both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav.