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Mainstream, VOL LV No 51 New Delhi December 9, 2017

BJP Routed in UP Urban Local Bodies’ Elections

Sunday 10 December 2017, by Sandeep Pandey

On December 2, 2017 most newspapers flashed a front-page story that the Bharatiya Janata Party had swept the urban local bodies’ elections. Pictures of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offering sweets to one of his Deputy CMs or the State BJP President and all of them displaying victory signs also accompanied the report.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The BJP has actullay been routed in these elections having managed to win a mere 18.7 per cent of all seats whereas the Opposition, especially the Independent candidates, have walked away with flying colours. In fact, if Independents were a party they would have got a thumping majority in these elections.

The only category in which the BJP has done better is the Mayors’ positions. Out of 16 Mayoral positions they have captured 14. But that is the end of their success story. And there is nothing unusual about it. Big cities are BJP strongholds for a long time now. It would have been surprising if they would not have won so many seats. In every other category of elected positions, other than Mayors’, the combined Opposition has decimated the BJP. The details are revealing.

For the position of Corporators in 16 Municipal Corporations, the BJP has won 596 seats with the Opposition taking away 703. The Samajwadi Party has got 202 seats whereas the Bahujan Samaj Party has 147 positions.

For the post of Chairperson of the Nagar Palika Parishad, while the BJP has managed 70 positions, the combined Opposition has got 128 positions. The SP has 45 and BSP 29 chairpersons of the NPP. When it comes to members for the Nagar Palika Parishad, the BJP with merely 922 seats stands nowhere close to 3380 Independents. The combined Opposition has got 4338 members. The SP has 477 members and BSP 262. The Aam Admi Party has managed 17 seats in this category.

There are more Independent Chairpersons of Nagar Panchayats than belonging to any single party. Their number is 182. Whereas the BJP has managed 100 positions, more than three times, 338 positions are occupied by the Opposition. The SP is not very far behind the BJP with 83 positions and the BSP has about half of that of the BJP at 45. Even the AAP will have two persons chairing the Nagar Panchayats. If we look at the members of Nagar Panchayats, again 3875 Independents clearly represent the people’s mood. The BJP could manage merely 664 seats. The SP with 453 seats closely followed.

Thus out of a total of 12,644 positions, non-BJP representatives hold 10,278!

If anybody can claim to have swept the elections it is the Independents who have a whopping share of 61 per cent of all seats.

So, the question is: why is the media gung-ho about an imagined BJP victory? What are its compulsions? Has it been managed so that the UP urban local bodies’ election results don’t have any adverse impact on the forthcoming Gujarat elections? Except for the Mayors’ post in big cities, people have very decisively rejected the BJP as a party in spite of it spending many times more money than other parties and fielding the CM to address election meetings. While Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati chose to keep out of campaigning leaving it to local leaders and workers, the BJP did not leave any stone unturned.

Quite clearly, the charisma of Narendra Modi or Yogi Adityanath failed to fetch votes contrary to what is being claimed. The common people are quite badly hurt by the decision of the BJP Government to implement demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax. Businesses have suffered greatly. People have lost jobs and income levels have dropped. Whether it is the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan for which everybody has to pay extra cess or the Ujjwala scheme where the connection is free but there is no subsidy for the poor on gas cylinders for cooking, the people are feeling the pinch. With no demonstrable benefits people have a feeling of having been taken for a ride or being treated like culprits with the authorities breathing down their neck. The economy has been badly hit and the mood among the people is that of despair. In such a situation it would have been really surprising had the people handed over a convincing victory to the BJP.

The BJP rode to power on the basis of a high- profile media and advertisement campaign in the first place and it continues to use the tool to hoodwink the people. The media has been made to fall in line. This is dangerous for democracy. When the media gives up its role of being an independent agency in democracy serving its role of holding the government accountable and starts toeing the government or worse the ruling party’s line, something must be done about it.

The media is part of the conspiracy to keep an unpopular anti-people party in power by swaying the public opinion. It is a great disservice to the people. All the people cannot be fooled all the time. The sheen of the government created by the media is now beginning to fade. The government is finding hard to maintain its credibility, nationally and internationally. Contrary to media stories, the international standing of India has gone down under the Modi regime in spite of him having made numerous foreign forays. The relationship with bigger countries like the United States, China, Pakistan has worsened, the smaller neigh-bours like Nepal and Maldives don’t trust India.

Without having taken any concrete steps to control deaths of children in the Gorakhpur Medical College hospital, CM Yogi Adityanath is seen to be giving more time and importance to religious issues. Ayodhya is back in focus although it is not clear how a grand temple in Ayodhya is going to help the common people overcome their suffering. The politics of symbolism is at the centre and when the government doesn’t have anything concrete to offer to the people, it does rely on media blitzkrieg.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey is the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India). He was elected to this post at the founding conference of the party at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62