New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic priorities and risk-taking, especially his bold move to demonitize high-value currency notes, seem to have paid rich electoral dividends in the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the traditional route to central rule.
Experts said the electorate’s acceptance of demonetisation as a bitter short-term pill for long-term good of the economy and the welfare schemes aimed at winning a wider support base for the party have more than compensated for alienating the cash-economy-reliant trading community which is a critical voting constituency for every political party.
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Election results declared Saturday showed that the BJP and its allies have won 325 seats in Uttar Pradesh, SP-Congress alliance 54 and Bahujan Samaj Party, 19.
Some of the schemes that helped BJP cover more ground were its focus on measures meant for the poor including the Prime Minister’s Jan dhan Yojana, a financial inclusion scheme, Atal Bima Yojana meant for the rural and unorganized sector workers, the LPG-for-women scheme called Ujjwala and promises to improve governance and waive off farmer loans at the first meeting of the new state cabinet if BJP comes to power. At a public rally in Deoria in Uttar Pradesh on 1 March, Modi also promised his party will clear all dues to sugar cane farmers in four months.
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According to A.K.Verma, director, Centre for the Study of Society and Politics (CSSP) located at Kanpur, the BJP is focusing on a different and much larger constituency in the state. “One thing is very clear. BJP has gone for a constituency transformation in this election. It is no longer limited to the party’s traditional focus areas of upper-middle class, urban residents and trading community, but encompasses farmers and the economically weaker and marginal sections of society. BJP’s politics now addresses 49% of the electorate compared to 19% earlier," said Verma.
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This has brought the BJP into the mainstream in the state, added Verma.
Traders, who were affected by demonetisation, are fewer in numbers than the economically weaker sections in the state who look forward to inclusive and poverty reducing measures, said another political analyst, who asked not to be identified. The trading community may have more significant presence in states like Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat, said the analyst.