Soon after the reverses the BJP suffered in State Assembly elections in W.Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it has suffered humiliation in some of its strongest households in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura in a phase of the rural decentralization( panchayati) elections in the electoral heartland of Uttar Pradesh.

Ayodhya has been the biggest centre of narrow religion-centered political mobilization of the BJP in recent decades. Here the BJP  has been pushed to the second position in the zila or district election results by the Samajwadi Party led by a younger leader Akhilesh Yadav.

Varanasi is a similar kind of stronghold for the BJP and in addition this is also the parliamentary constituency of its supreme leader Narendra Modi. Mr. Modi being the Prime Minister has been able to direct a lot of investment and development funds for his constituency. Here too efforts have been made recently to polarize people along temple-mosque issues as was done earlier in Ayodhya on a much larger scale. Despite all this the BJP has suffered big setbacks here and has been pushed to the second position by the Samajvadi Party.

Mathura is the third biggest centre of narrow religious appeal based politics of the BJP. Here again the BJP has been pushed behind by regional parties.

Electoral setbacks have been reported for the BJP form some other important places as well as in the state. However despite this the BJP may be able to present a more impressive picture of its performance at the end as it is reported to be in touch with independent candidates who have won in large numbers on the basis of their local influence.

Political parties have only  limited role in these local elections. Many influential persons contest as independent candidates. Numerically the total number of such candidates is much higher compared to any single political party. By using its huge money power the BJP hopes to buy the support of several of them so that its persons can emerge as Chairpersons at district level.

Nevertheless it is still  being considered significant that the BJP has suffered big reversals at some of its strongholds. In terms of people’s verdict it is election results that matter, not the role of money which follows. Results are still coming in at the time of writing, but the trends indicate that if only the leading political parties are compared, then at the time of writing the Samajwadi Party is leading, followed by the BJP, the BSP and the Congress, in this order.

Whatever be the final electoral results followed by the buying of support, it remains an encouraging sign that in areas where most divisions are sought to be created and more divisive politics has been practiced , people have started to reject this divisive politics and they are asserting themselves as voters to record this rejection. This surely is good news for all those who believe firmly in  communal harmony and national integration.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include When the Two Streams Met ( Freedom Movement ) and Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times).


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  1. Time for Modi to quit?