To say that the Uttar Pradesh elections were highly polarized is an understatement.
This long drawn out elections, conducted in 7 phases had a vitiated atmosphere to begin with- the seeds of division on religious lines had started much before 2017. The Muzaffarnagar riots had permanently damaged the existing harmony. The exodus from Kairana was a lie that was repeated so often since the BJP came to power at the centre, that it started sounding like the truth. And let us not forget the Dadri lynching. The question of a mob lynching a human being was replaced by a question on the nature of ‘meat’ in the fridge. Remember,this is an incident on which our PM remained silent. And the fringe elements in the Sangh Parivar kept up the pitch by making vile statements.
BJP does not field a single Muslim candidate
Come elections and the polarization peaked. For one, many BJP leaders who were accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots were fielded- Suresh Rana, Sangeet Som and more. Not only for his constituency, he was appointed as the star campaigner in 100 constituencies. And not a single Muslim candidate was fielded by the BJP which clearly sent its communal message- they are not required by the party. Excluding them and creating a divisive atmosphere will get them to win by bringing all the Hindu votes.
Mayawati, by fielding more than 90 Muslim candidates actually encouraged the polarization. The polarisation of Muslims in favour of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Muslim candidates led the Hindus to rally behind the BJP candidates. The feelings of ‘us’ and ‘them’ had been sown long back. In a way their role was complementary to each other.
Incendiary statements by BJP leaders
Suresh Rana: “If I lose this election then sweets will be distributed in Deoband. If I win, there will be curfew in Moradabad and Rampur.”
As elections advanced the statements became more and more vicious. Yogi Adityanath, next to only Praveen Togadia in his vitriolic speeches had a most important role to play. His tour of Western U.P reawakened old enemities. His campaign always talked about U.P turning into Kashmir( by expelling Hindus) and the ‘ Love Jihad.’ And the Election Commission remained silent.
Amit Shah’s importance and planning had won the BJP the Lok Sabha election in 2014. This time too he was the key figure, second to only the PM and they had rich experience on their side.
Modi jumps into the bandwagon
Always hinting on his communal legacy, the Prime Minister finally abandoned all pretenses of ‘development’ to openly shock many by his speech on ‘kabristaan and shamshaan.’ “Gaon main kabristaan banta hai to shamshaan bhi banna chaahiye,” Modi said. If there is a graveyard in a village, there should also be a cremation ground. But the ‘shock and awe’ tactics of the party worked on the ground. After all it was time tested and always bore fruit.
The flagrant violation of the Election code by the ruling party at the centre both in Varanasi and Manipur has set a very bad trend. The PM left no stone unturned in his incessant campaign trail. So as the exit polls are predicting the BJP may win in many states but at what cost?