UP council results: Lessons for SP and BJP in one-sided polls 

Lucknow, March 7 (IANS) On Sunday, as the results of the legislative council elections through local bodies were being announced, there was a mad scamper by the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) to bill its winning 23 of the 28 council seats as “acceptance of its development agenda”.

In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), licking its wounds over the woeful defeat at the hustings, was terming it the result of the “use of money, power and muscle” by the ruling party.

The two parties that stand at the extreme ends of the political spectrum seem to have sadly read the message wrong.

First, the ruling party’s gloating over an indirect election did not behove it since the victory was marred by allegations of intimidation, allurements and arm-twisting.

That apart, only last month the SP was put through an embarrasing situation when it lost two of its seats in the bypolls to the state assembly. This, despite the fact that the SP had fielded family members of its late legislators to cash in on sympathy and sentiments. The voters gave it an emphatic thumbs down. The ruling party won the lone Bikapur assembly seat by a narrow margin.

So, why is there jubiliation in the ruling camp now?

Party insiders say that the ruling dispensation was clinging to every straw that came its way, as many realised that they were facing a strong anti-incumbency move, despite some development work initiated by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

On the eve of the counting for the legislative council polls, three persons were killed in broad daylight in the state capital, pointing to a soaring crime graph and poor law and order situation. That could be the nemesis of the Akhilesh regime in future polls.

The only consolation for the SP is it now has a majority in the upper house of the Uttar Pradesh legislature which will help it push through important legislations for the remainder one year of its term.

At the other end of the spectrum is the BJP, which harbours big dreams of romping back to power in the state after being pushed into political oblivion for more than a decade.

Its hopes of riding on the Modi wave, which gave the party a stunning 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, seems to have met with serious roadblocks over the past two years. While insiders admit that the party was not “in perfect shape” for the 2017 state assembly polls, publicly it’s putting up a brave face despite the rout in the council elections.

Vijay Bahadur Pathak, BJP’s state spokesman, said the party would prepare itself better for the 2017 polls.

BJP leaders admit that the defeat in the council polls “would certainly have a negative psychological impact” on the cadres. “A loss is a loss and we have to admit that this defeat will have its share of impact on our fortunes,” a senior leader told IANS, not wishing to be named.

The BJP has a lot of explaining to do in terms of why it could not find candidates for the 11 seats where it has party MPs. The party will have to also explain why its four candidates crossed over to the ruling Samajwadi Party at the last minute and why it embraced defectors from other parties. Its inability to get enough votes to open an account in the upper house polls will cast a deep shadow on its 2017 assembly polls efforts.

“Such polls generally go the ruling party way. Even during the Mayawati regime, BSP had won maximum number of seats and its now the turn of the SP,” said a BJP leader.

He, however, failed to explain why the party chose to contest these polls if it was sure of the drubbing, thus giving a psychological edge to the ruling regime.

The BSP and independents won two seats each and the Congress won from Rae Bareli, where the Lok Sabha seat is held by its president Sonia Gandhi.

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