Repeating West Bengal Mistake, Modi Launches UP Electioneering 7 Months in Advance

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi waving crowd at election rally in West Bengal

Showering praise on Yogi, instead of being apologetic for Covid mishandling is like rubbing salt in the wounds

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

THE Bharatiya Janata Party has not learnt any lesson from the defeat in West Bengal Assembly poll, where it had virtually launched the election campaign five months before the start of first phase of polling.

In Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Banaras on an official trip on July 15. Though he inaugurated projects worth Rs 1,500 crore in the city which is also his parliamentary constituency, yet UP-watchers have no doubt that he virtually kicked off electioneering seven months before the polling process is to start in the state.

There is no denying the fact that the BJP always starts the election campaign much before any other political party. But in the Assembly polls held in the last six years it has been observed that the party had not performed well in the states where it went into the polling mode much earlier.

In contrast it did relatively better in the states where PM Modi addressed a lesser number of rallies or where the campaign was taken up much later.

Contrary to West Bengal where Union Home Minister Amit Shah landed on November 4, 2020 night with a vow to throw out the Trinamool Congress government, in Assam PM Modi made an official visit on January 23, 2021 after a long time as the BJP was fearing the backlash of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement.

Shah’s visit to West Bengal was followed by his another trip to the state on December 19-20 and PM Modi’s virtual address on the occasion of the centenary celebration of Vishwa Bharati two days later.

It was Modi’s first trip to Assam in a year where he last went to Kokrajhar on February 7, 2020 to attend the celebration of the signing of Bodoland Accord.

While Modi led the carpet bombing of West Bengal before and after the announcement of election dates by the Election Commission in the last week of February, he addressed fewer election meetings in Assam. Similar was the case of Amit Shah and other party bigwigs. The result was there for everyone to see. The party was routed in West Bengal while it was voted back to power in Assam.

Just before that, in the Bihar elections of October-November 2020, Modi addressed just 12 election rallies in four trips. Amit Shah did not pay any visit to the state. In Bihar, the BJP did well and the NDA returned to power.

On the other hand, in the 2015 Assembly election in Bihar, Modi addressed over 30 public meetings during the campaign. This was preceded by official visits to five places. The party failed disastrously and could win only 53 seats and five others were bagged by its alliance partners. The Grand Alliance of RJD, JD-U and Congress romped home with 178 seats.
Between 2017 and 2019, the party lost Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Karnataka—it was in power in all of them except the last one. In February 2020, the BJP could win only eight seats in Delhi against Aam Aadmi Party’s 62 though Modi left no stone unturned and threw all his weight to see that Arvind Kejriwal is defeated.
In December 2017, the BJP just managed to win Gujarat by a much slender margin though Modi and Shah tried everything to increase the tally from the previous election. In the House of 182 the saffron party could win only 99 — 17 less than the previous one — and the Congress gave a big fight though it was organizationally very weak in the state.
This had happened in spite of the fact that Modi invited his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to the state on September 13-14. The two held a road-show in Ahmedabad. On the first day, the two also visited Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram and 16th century Sidi Sayeed Mosque. On the second day, Abe laid the foundation stone of the Bullet train.
Modi returned to Gujarat three days later to inaugurate the Narmada Dam on the occasion of his birthday on September 17.

Though actually Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were to go to polls simultaneously, the election in the home state of Modi and Shah was held separately so that more projects are inaugurated in the state before the announcement of election by the Election Commission.
Thus it was observed that the over exposure of Modi in Assembly elections cost the BJP dearly even in his home state of Gujarat.

The problem with the BJP’s election campaign is based on wrong strategy and timing. The party is unable to deliver anything on the ground and is relying on the same old policy of polarization which did not work in West Bengal.

The personal attack on the only woman chief minister of the country boomeranged. At the same time the early launch of the campaign gave enough time to the Mamata Banerjee government to tone up the administration and cancel out the impact of anti-incumbency.
Now in Uttar Pradesh, too, the campaign started off on the wrong note. When the state chief minister Yogi Adityanath is under strong criticism from within his own party for mishandling of the challenge posed by Covid-19, Prime Minister Modi, on his first trip to UP after the second wave instead of being apologetic chose to shower praise on him. Why was he in a hurry to do so when the wound is still fresh in the minds of the people of the state.
As he was patting Yogi on his back, the UP government was locked in a showdown with the BJP government of Uttarakhand on the issue of Kanwaria Yatra. The latter is in no mood to allow pilgrims to reach Haridwar which is in Uttarakhand. Even the Supreme Court has taken strong notice of the UP government’s green signal to pilgrims.

The mistimed and misplaced justification of any person or the policy cost the BJP heavily in West Bengal, where the party went to the polls strongly supporting Citizenship Amendment Act while taking the totally opposite position in Assam. If the two BJP governments are taking totally different stands on Kanwaria Yatra it is not happening on its own. This is certainly a part of the contradictory stand of the central leadership of the party.

In the same way the BJP in UP earned nothing except bad reputation by winning the election of block chiefs by hook or by crook. The fact is that such action did not yield political results.

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