Modi-Yogi Combination to be BJP’s 'Turbo Power' in India’s Uttar Pradesh, Pundit Says

© AP Photo / Altaf QadriFILE- In this March 28, 2019, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, speaks with Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state Yogi Adityanath during an election campaign rally in Meerut, India
FILE- In this March 28, 2019, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, speaks with Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state Yogi Adityanath during an election campaign rally in Meerut, India - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.10.2021
In about six months, India’s Uttar Pradesh state is set to go to the polls. Whether the ruling BJP wins or not, all have already begun their preparations. State chief Yogi Adityanath has taken charge of the party for the polls while the opposition is targeting his government for its failure on several issues.
Looking at the upcoming legislative assembly polls in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, the biggest state in the country in terms of population, its ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced a state cabinet expansion. With an aim to woo potential voters in all communities, the party inducted seven new ministers.
Of the seven new ministers, one is from the Brahmin community while three are from an Other Backward Class (OBC), two are from a Scheduled Caste (SC) and one is from a Scheduled Tribe (ST).
Since the caste system plays a vital role in the state politics of Uttar Pradesh, Sputnik reached out to political expert Shekhar Iyer to deliberate on the key factors that may prove crucial for the Hindu monk and State BJP leader Yogi Adityanath to return as the State chief.
The ruling BJP will be facing the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Congress as key opponents.
Sputnik: With legislative assembly polls around the corner, what may have driven Uttar Pradesh State Chief Yogi Adityanath to induct seven new faces in the council of ministers in this last phase of this government’s five-year term?
Shekhar Iyer: The BJP is looking for a small number of those votes, which can add to the aggregation. The party doesn’t want to take chances by leaving anybody (any section of society). This time there is more focus (of BJP) on non-Jatav Scheduled Caste (SC) as well as non-Yadav Other Backward Caste (OBC).
This has also been the BJP’s strategy in the last elections. Even in the cabinet expansion of the federal government on 8 July this year, the party adopted the same strategy. In the state government cabinet expansion, the party has included two ministers from Scheduled Tribes (ST). Now, the STs are in small numbers in Uttar Pradesh but the BJP has tried to not leave out any community (from being represented in the government).
The BJP leadership understands the complications of the caste system in the state and its fallout.
The opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) is largely seen as a party which is dependent on Muslim-Yadav (voters), while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is dependent on Dalits (voters), especially from the Jatav community.
So, the BJP is looking for non-Yadav OBCs who are looking for an alternative to the Samajwadi Party and similarly for those non-Jatav Dalits, who are not happy with the BSP (when it ruled Uttar Pradesh under its leader Mayawati).
So, the BJP’s idea behind the cabinet expansion is that the people (read candidates) chosen from the particular community should win the votes for the party from every assembly seat of the state.
Apart from this, the BJP also wants to improve its tally of seats that it won in the last elections.
Sputnik: With farmers being agitated for months over three contentious laws passed in the parliament by the BJP-led federal government, do you think such a move to expand the cabinet could be a way to draw other sections of society?
Shekhar Iyer: The issue of the three farm laws is a major concern for farmers in Punjab and some parts of Haryana state.
The way the farm laws are being perceived by the farmers of Punjab is not the same as it is being taken up by the farmers of Uttar Pradesh. This is the reason that a large part of the state is unaffected by the farmers’ protest.
Despite farmers’ unions involving farmers’ leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh like Rakesh Tikait, the perception about the Bill (farm laws) is different in the state of Uttar Pradesh and even in the rest of the country.
So, farm laws might not have a tertiary status and may not have a pan-Uttar Pradesh impact but definitely the incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri (in which four farmers were mowed down allegedly by a cabinet member's car) is bad news for the BJP. However, the party won’t see the bigger fallout of this incident, as the main accused has been arrested.
Sputnik: Do you think such a cabinet rejig is too little, too late, to expect better results in elections that are not too far away?
Shekhar Iyer: Well, the cabinet expansion of the state government is not the only way that the party is trying to reach out to the people of these communities.
The BJP has been focusing on its expansion for a number of years. This is the reason they got good results in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.
The BJP has been systematically working to fill in the gaps in its effort to consolidate the votes. So, cabinet expansion is just another exercise, while they are already delivering through various social welfare schemes.
For example, in the 2019 Parliamentary elections, the party garnered votes through its various social welfare schemes like a free cooking gas connection for the women and others. This time the BJP is working on schemes like clean tap water for every household, the Prime Minister’s housing scheme, and several others.
The party is showing state chief Yogi Adityanath as a person who has delivered on several things.
Apart from this, Prime Minister Modi will definitely be campaigning vigorously in Uttar Pradesh for the polls along with Yogi Adityanath. So, the Modi-Yogi combination in Uttar Pradesh will be a turbo power for the BJP.
The rest of the things like cabinet expansion is a kind of micro-management that might work or not in favour of the party, but the outreach of the welfare schemes in the state and Modi-Yogi combination will be the winning mantra for the BJP.
Sputnik: What about BJP’s allies feeling left out due to creating space for various representative politicians from different castes? Won’t it have an impact on the polls?
Shekhar Iyer: Actually the BJP is in alliance with small parties which will be throwing tantrums ahead of the elections. However, the BJP will be looking at all the equations either just a couple of months ahead of the polls or after the polls.
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