State Polls: The Clouds Darken for India

The seven-phased UP Assembly elections ended on March 7 and results were declared on March 10. — PTI file photo

Muslims who have been at the receiving end of of incumbent BJP government’s misrule are the mute spectators of the unforeseen gloomy outcome.

Asad Mirza | Clarion India

THE ruling national party of India – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have decapitated all opposition political parties in the country. The results of five states in India, which went to polls last month, the BJP has won in four states. Of these four states, the most important state was Uttar Pradesh (UP), as BJP’s performance in this state was being seen as a precursor to the coming national elections in 2024 and to gauge voter’s mood.

As per the Election Commission of India’s statistics, the BJP garnered 42% vote share in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Samajwadi party (SP) with 32.06%, Bahujan Samaj Party (BS) with 12.88% and the Indian National Congress with just 2.33%.

Also for the first time in UP, a ruling party has returned to power in the state after 1985. Yogi Adityanath is set to become the first chief minister in the state to return to power after serving a full five-year term.

In spite of criticism of its handling of the Corona pandemic, dwindling economy and rising unemployment PM Modi held 24 ground and 5 virtual rallies in the state, CM Yogi Adityanath held 203 rallies. Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi also held 209 rallies during the trailblazing campaign in the state.

The BJP’s focus in these rallies was around improving law and order, though the rising cases of cow vigilantism and mob lynching disapprove these claims. In addition the party took the credit for laying of the foundation stone of Ram temple at Ayodhya and the inauguration of the Kashi corridor. In his election rallies, CM Adityanath kept repeating his “80 vs 20” and ‘”Ali vs Bajrangbali’ comments – all of which helped consolidate the Hindu vote.

A shrinking opposition in the state also helped the BJP to a large extent. Despite the SP scoring big with 111 seats, most Opposition parties contested separately, thus cutting into each other’s votes. The shrinking of the BSP and the Congress meant that in a bipolar field, the SP couldn’t breach the BJP’s mark.

While acknowledging that Priyanka Gandhi did hard work in UP and raised important issues of women, political analysts said it failed to click with the electorate. Her campaign events drew large crowds, but she failed to transform their support into votes.

The election results have flummoxed the psephologists and political analysts and exit poll experts, who were predicting an SP win in the state. Bizarrely even the SP’s alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which spearheaded a six months long farmers agitation over farm laws proposed by the BJP government, was unable to bring in the expected results, as the RLD-SP alliance lost all three eats in the western UP region.

Another player in the fray, to queer the pitch in the UP elections was Asad Uddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), who fielded candidates on 100 seats but was not able to win even a single seat.

Owaisi who led an electoral campaign built on anti-Muslim policies of the BJP, was being criticised by many Muslim leaders for wrongly throwing his hat in the ring, as his party has no support base in the state and many had predicted that his game was to divide the Muslim vote in favour of the BJP or to consolidate the Hindu vote in favour of BJP.

The mute spectators of the latest electoral win for the BJP are the Muslims of the state, who have been at the receiving end of the state’s BJP government for the last five years.

They have seen the administration banning all meat establishments in the state, rise and growth of unruly mob and lumpen elements in the state who in the guise of religion, were tormenting its Muslim residents every day, a state that has become notorious for its cow vigilantism and mob-lynching psychology targeted against Muslims.

The UP government had also ordered confiscation and bulldozing of properties of Muslims who participated in the anti-NPR (National Population Register) and anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) demonstrations and rallies in the state. The Muslims see these two new proposed laws as specifically drafted to make them second-class citizens in their own country, based on various provisions of the acts, if implemented.

Solemnly the Muslims not just in UP but everywhere in India are facing an uncertain future due to the anti-Muslim policies of the establishment everywhere. For this nobody else but they themselves are to be blamed.

Instead of becoming a political force based on their numbers, as shown by other minorities like Sikhs, they engage in a one upmanship game with every leader criticising each other and doing the least for the community, suffering from the crab mentality and then they bemoan the fact that there is no Muslim leadership. Basically it’s the policy of adopting double standards by the community leaders who are concerned about their personal welfare and the community is least bothered about these leaders, except matters religious – on which also they try to find an escape route.

The Muslim community which is ridden by so many factions and groups has been unable to forge a common community psyche over the last 72 years, and that’s why it is paying the price for its callousness.

The atmosphere of intolerance and majoritarianism, which has gained prominence in India during the last eight years doesn’t bode well for its composite and liberal society. The current government seems hell bent on destroying the centuries-old social fabric of the country and make it a Hindu Rashtra or state.

However, even with its latest win in UP which sends the highest number of members to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, BJP may fall short of reaching the majority mark in Rajya Sabha before 2024, when the next general elections are due, due to the rotational membership of the house, which may not go in its favour. And it may not be able to deliver the high value promise made in its elections campaign in the last general elections.


Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi.  Earlier he was associated with BBC Urdu Service and Khaleej Times of Dubai. He writes on Muslims, educational, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here