People used to connect with Shiv Sena only because of Balasaheb Thackeray and till the time he was alive the party had some glory across India. As we all know Uddhav Thackeray is nowhere near Balasaheb and his hold over the party is not as firm as his father. He cannot get attached to the masses as his father did. Balasaheb Thackeray was known to convert popular sentiment into votes, getting into controversies and making no apologies for it though his son has tried to tone down the party’s stance after his death. He was known for his inflammatory writings, was seen as a good orator who used harsh humour to engage his audiences. Balasaheb Thackeray was bold enough to stand against the ruling regime and propagate the cause of Hinduism. That is the reason he was very popular among people of Uttar Pradesh too, the heartland of Hindutva.
Uddhav’s alliance with Congress has not gone well with many Indians and most of those Hindus who used to worship Balasaheb as Hindu Hridhay Samrat. Shiv Sainiks were reportedly a part of the Babri Masjid demolition, and since then Shiv Sena came into the limelight in India. Uttar Pradesh Shiv Sena workers are not as hardcore as Maharashtra. They just took some positions as officer bearers but hardly contributed to the welfare of Uttar Pradesh and its people. Just ahead of elections, making statements and declaring candidates is not enough for Shiv Sena to make its mark.
After changing the political equations in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had claimed that the party has been working for a long time in UP but didn’t contest elections because it did not want to hurt the BJP. But Shiv Sena very well contested the elections and lost deposits on a humiliating note, the reason they never helped people of Uttar Pradesh in crises. I doubt how many times Shiv Sena leaders have visited Uttar Pradesh to speak for the people’s well-being. There is no single incidence that local Shiv Sainiks visited their constituencies and greeted people all these years. Why would people vote for them?
BJP might be in momentary jeopardy, but recently BJP won 66 seats out of 75 in the Zila Panchayat elections. These figures are clearly evident from the fact that if BJP won such a humongous number of seats — almost with the majority, then it would not be difficult for BJP to make government once again in the 2022 Assembly elections. The fight in UP is mainly between BJP and SP. BSP is already struggling for survival on its own and the Congress somewhat regaining its lost sheen and small political parties like NCP, Shiv Sena, AIMIM may successfully dent some per cent of votes but that would be just negligible.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has a higher chance to win because the Hindi belt States won’t repose faith in any other political party. Still, BJP has to walk on a tight rope, the Party has to appease both Dalit and Upper Caste voters of UP; if it wants to come back with the resounding mandate; then they have to even replace the Chief Ministerial candidate with someone who is acceptable to people of all caste, creed and religion. 21 per cent population is of Upper Caste, 9 per cent Yadav, 31 per cent non-Yadav OBCs, 19 per cent Muslims, 11 per cent Jatav Dalits and 9 per cent non-Jatav Dalits. 90 per cent of Upper castes and 2/3rd of the non-Yadav OBCs may go with the BJP. 1/3rd of non-Jatav votes also can go to BJP. And this takes the BJP to at least 41 per cent vote share.
Yadav and the remaining 1/3rd OBC vote can shift to SP, along with 1/2 Muslim vote, which takes it to a maximum 28 per cent vote share. Now, BSP is likely to get the Jatav vote, 1/2 non-Jatav vote and very few Muslim vote. Its vote is likely to be 16 per cent. Congress will manage some good numbers but won’t be creating any magic, that too coming from the fragmented shares. Other parties like Shiv Sena, NCP, AIMIM, Peace Party etc. can get remaining votes if any.
But if we look at rebels, most of the votes were taken away from BJP in local elections by rebels who were denied tickets. In 2019 Haryana, rebels spoiled the game for BJP as they cut a lot of votes and 5 of them even ended up winning and the same could repeat in 2022 UP if the BJP state unit doesn’t field candidates wisely. I hope they don’t rope in any foolish film stars as they did in Bengal.
BJP has to put their complete life into the election because if the BJP doesn’t win 325 out of the 403 seats, then its strength in Rajya Sabha will fall as it has already lost many states. Secondly, the BJP+RSS+VHP combine has a huge ground level and booth level base in UP. This again gives BJP an advantage but they need inner cordial relations.
The BJP led alliance may not target the votes of three communities which are Muslims, Yadavs and Jatav/ Chamars. These three jointly have a population share of around 40 per cent. All the remaining 60 per cent communities will be targeted by BJP. Since I already said that only a 35 per cent vote is required to win the election, BJP does not need all of this 60 per cent. To achieve a 35 per cent vote share, they will have to get only 60 per cent of their targeted vote. That is 60 per cent of 60 per cent amounts to around 35–36 per cent overall. Had the second wave not come, BJP could have crossed 300 seats. But now, I feel this could be the possible result- Total – 403 and majority-202, BJP- 255, SP- 100, BSP-15, INC-15, RLD- 10, others- 8.
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