Voter disconnect, motormouths, wrong candidate selection — what review of BJP’s UP results found

Voter disconnect, motormouths, wrong candidate selection — what review of BJP’s UP results found

New Delhi/Lucknow: BJP general secretary organisation B.L.Santhosh led a post-poll analysis for two days in Lucknow where a major point of review was the shift of Dalit and backward caste voters to the rival combine of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

Three major factors came out when Santhosh asked Dalit ministers in the Yogi cabinet — Baby Rani Maurya, Gulab Devi, Asim Arun and Dinesh Khatik — as well as SC and OBC Morcha heads — how this happened especially given that the backward communities voted en masse for the party in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections.

The first and major reason cited for the alienation of Dalits and backward communities was the BJP’s own ‘Kalidas’ (alluding to the legend about the poet having been a fool earlier in life) who through their statements on ‘Abki Baar, 400 Paar‘ fuelled the opposition’s narrative that the Constitution would be amended if the ruling party attains its target.

“Why blame the opposition when our leaders spoke about amending the Constitution? Whether it’s Lallu Singh, Arun Govil, or even when Home Minister Amit Shah’s ‘fake video’ was circulated by social media influencers, the party did not react swiftly to counter the fake video,” one of the Dalit leaders said at the meeting.

The lack of connection with Dalits and the absence of proactive response led to a ‘hawa’ (narrative) regarding abolition of backward reservations, they said, adding that the community then bought the argument of the opposition.

The third point that came out from these sessions was corruption and absence of their share in contract jobs further alienated the vote bank.

From 48 percent vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP saw it fall to 41 percent in UP where it won only 8 of the 17 reserved SC seats. Five years back, the BJP had 14 of these seats while its ally Apna Dal wrested 1. This year, 7 such seats went to the SP while the Congress and the Azad Samaj Party won 1 seat each.

Santhosh advised the BJP state core group about bringing more synergy and a greater Dalit outreach before the Uttar Pradesh assembly bypolls to bring back backward castes from the SP fold, a BJP source said.

Of the 10 seats that are going to bypolls, 5 were with the SP, 3 with the BJP and 1 each with the RLD and the Nishad Party.

Also Read: BJP’s reports pinpoint Agnipath as factor in LS setbacks across states, cadres want review of scheme

Grievances spelt out

“The opposition’s arguments were supported by our leaders and our mismanagement on the job front. Whatever vacancies opened up in government jobs, most were contractual and outsourced. No reservation benefit was extended to the backward community,” said one of the ministers present at the meeting.

“In fact, there is a huge corruption in filling contractual openings. The disadvantaged groups did not get jobs. Moreover, paper leaks fuelled the anger of Dalits and backward communities, particularly the youths. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar appointed 4 lakh teachers. Despite UP being a much larger state, what have we done on the job front?”

Both former BJP MP Subrat Pathak and UP SC Morcha head Ramchandra Kanaujiya agreed with the explanations put forth at the meeting

“The youth anger regarding the paper leak and the Dalit anger over not finding jobs, even contractual, led to an atmosphere against the party. The opposition campaign that the Constitution would be amended, dented us severely,” Pathak told ThePrint.

This year, Pathak lost to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in Kannauj.

“We could not counter the opposition’s Constitution narrative effectively and the anger on the job front further aggravated the anger of the community. We have discussed these points and the party has tasked a few leaders to find a way in ensuring jobs to the disadvantaged communities,” Kanaujiya, who was present at the meeting, told ThePrint.

Apart from the Constitution narrative, the opposition’s social engineering shifted the  BSP’s Jatav voters to the Congress while the non-Jatav Dalits, particularly Pasi and Valmiki, went with the SP, according to the party functionaries.

The shift of OBCs like Kurmi, Kushwaha and Shakya to the SP as well as the BSP’s marginalisation dented the BJP more this time, they added.

“Under (ex-PM) Atal ji, reservations in government jobs were increased while under the Mulayam Singh government in 1994, the SP had led a campaign against newspapers. Who was behind the shameful guest house case of 1995? It was the SP,” UP BJP spokesperson Sameer Singh told ThePrint.

“The maximum FIRs were lodged against the SP workers for demolishing Ambedkar statues. Look at the Shah Bano case, or Indira Gandhi’s reaction when her election was set aside by the Allahabad High Court. Those who weakened the Constitution are now raising such issues,” he added.

Faulty ticket distribution, repeating MPs 

Another feedback received by Santhosh was the same people — some contesting second and third time — got poll tickets despite several surveys and organisation feedback going against them.

The BJP had persisted with 54 candidates from 2019, but 31 of them lost this time. Of the 33 three-time MPs in the poll hustings, 20 were shown the exit door. Overall, as many as 27 of 49 sitting BJP MPs lost  this time around.

One of the functionaries told Santhosh that despite feedback, these candidates were given tickets resulting in local MLAs and organisations uniting to defeat them.

Those who won in 2014 and 2019 became arrogant and were not ready to listen to the people’s problems, he said. “An MP used to tell his PS to lock his room from outside to avoid people. How come people will tolerate the arrogance of such disconnected MPs?”

In contrast, another person at the meeting, said Jagdambika Pal, 74, won for the third third time because of his connection with voters and solving their problem at earliest.

Humiliation of party workers 

Several functionaries who briefed Santosh raised the issue of humiliation of BJP workers by elected representatives and local administration. This, they said, led to disenchantment of local workers. There was a huge disconnect between the government and party as well as party workers, according to them.

”BJP workers were humiliated by the administration at tehsil level. When our ministers are not acknowledged by DMs, what will be the prestige of a district president or an MLA before party workers? Such small things matter in politics …  (As a result) the district president has no clout in administration, and MLAs or ministers don’t not have the backing of workers.” a BJP in-charge of Lok Sabha polls in western UP told Santhosh.

Overdependence on allies  

A large chunk of BJP spokespersons informed Santhosh that the allies, including the Apna Dal (Soneylal), the NISHAD party, and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), should raise their doubts and differences in opinion internally within the NDA and not publicly in media.

As recently as 2 July, Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal (S) remarked that while several issues pertaining to the backwards and Dalits were resolved under the Modi government, some still persisted.

Asked if such issues were raised during the meeting, BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said differences should be before the appropriate forum and not before the media.

“All the allies have their own ideologies, differences of opinion and working style — which is why they are separate parties. … They have come together with us to work on a common minimum programme, and they keep raising their doubts or differences of opinion before the party leadership,” Tripathi told ThePrint.

“A lot of doubts are immediately removed when brought to the right forum. Any such doubt or differences should be raised at the appropriate forum rather than before the media.”

A Morcha head pointed out that the BJP gambit of depending on O.P. Rajbhar (SBSP) and Sanjay Nishad (Nishad Party) did not work in the election.

“The party should empower its own Dalit and backward leaders prominently. Even the government should depute Dalit and backward officers in policing and administration at lower level to strengthen connection with the community,” he said.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: What’s behind Union MoS Anupriya Patel’s jibe at Yogi govt on ‘denial’ of reserved seats to OBCs, SC/STs


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