MODI WAVE AND INDIAN DEMOCRACY
by K Vijayachandran
UTTAR PRADESH: THE LEVERAGING OF MODI WAVE
In the sixteenth Loksabha polls BJP could increase its vote share in UP to more than 42 percent, it was only17 percent in the previews polls. Even more, with a 42 percent vote shre it could win 71 out of 80 or nearly 90 percent of seats. True, in Gujarat, Rajastan, Uttarkhand, and Madhya Pradesh BJP has won 100 percent or close to 100 of seats but UP has the distinction of highest yield of seat per vote, despite the size and other complexities of the sate.
BJP’s best record in UP was 57 seats and that was in 1998, when it polled 36 percent of votes. And the vote share has been declining in subsequent Loksabha polls. In the last State Assembly elections its vote share had touched an all time low of 15 percent. The big story of how this trend was reversed with a little bit of corporate planning (and corporate resources!) as narrated by Amit Shaw, 49, a professional business planner and BJP boss of UP was reported in the Economic Times of 18th May.
BJP had not contested panchayat or cooperative elections in the state for nearly two decades and according to Shaw, BJP had little or no contact with influential people at the gram pradhan level. At the district level SP and BSP leaders were more popular than those of BJP. In fact, his party had to be built up from the bottom: To reach out maximum people in a short time, Shaw conducted programs in 13,000 college campuses to register volunteers. In fact, Rahul Gandhi had started such exercises on similar lines, inspired by modern management methods.
Shaw had assembled a 800 strong volunteer corps under him, largely from fresh recruits, and they were equipped with 450 GPS-installed Modi vans with campaign material and a 16 minute video. These squads were dispatched to the remote villages, or the so called dark zones in UP -areas that do not have access to any form of media. Local leaders had initially resisted these moves but they could be easily won over by the superior corporate culture.
“Shortly after taking charge, Shaw conducted day-long meetings in groups with the party’s MLA and MP candidates who had lost elections previously to know the reasons for their defeat .. for it was more important to know why they lost elections.” Shaw carried out extensive due diligence before finalizing names and was ruthless during ticket distribution. The criteria was simple: deny tickets to those who had contested and lost in the past, since lack of success was evidence of their unpopularity. Preference was given to local aspirants who were easily approachable.
For electioneering the eighty constituencies were divided into eight zones under which there were twenty two clusters each cluster having three to five constituencies. There was a strategy for the state as whole, then for the zones and clusters and finally for the specific constituency. Shaw and his team drafted a four-level corporate-style detailed plans for maximizing the number of seat-wins under the given socio-political environment and resources position.
Based on ‘social engineering or social equations’ largest chunk, 28 out of 80 tickets were given to OBCs, 19 to Bhrahmins and 17 to Thakurs. Tickets were also given to representatives of backward communities such as Nishad, Bind, and Khushwaha who don’t dominate a particular constituency, but are present in large numbers along the Ganges to help consolidate (caste based) votes across constituencies. There are no reports on any Muslim candidate being sponsored by BJP.
That was how BJP launched a well planned campaign against caste-based politics in the 16th Loksbha polls in UP. And, results were spectacular: BSP with its SC + Brahman base, despite polling nearly a fifth of the votes polled, did not get a single seat! SP of Yadavs and Muslims got only five seats, despite polling more than 20 percent of votes. Congress polled 7.5 percent votes and could return only Sonia and Rahul!
Varansi which witnessed a sort of public trial of the Election Commission of India, jointly by BJP leaders and the visual media, elected Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India with a thumping majority of 3.7 Lakh, defeating Kejriwal who could poll only a little over two lakh votes. With Congress polling some 76,000 and CPI(M) less than three thousand, Varanasi has made a sort of history.
Plans for using Uttar Pradesh in order to leverage a Modi wave at all India level have proved to be a grand success. According to the Economic Times, each of the one lakh polling booths in UP was provided with a Bolero, capable of transporting ten people, as part of the strategic plan, developed and implemented by Shaw and his corporate colleagues. With all these hardware and software inputs, costing quite a billions of Rupeyah, Loksabha elections in UP have added a totally new dimension to Indian democracy.