Over last few days media has been hyping the news of several MLAs and a couple of ministers leaving BJP and joining opposition. It seems these defections have given a new life to the media, which otherwise was faced with a ‘dull’ one-sided elections, given the tremendous performance by Yogi government over last five years. An un-eventful election is usually least attractive for the media houses.
As a matter of fact, for last five years they were uncomfortable with streams of only positive and developmental news from UP under the Yogi government. The opposition was almost in slumber. In the circumstances the media sought to create motivated stories occasionally like Hathras, Covid deaths, and so on. That had made the opposition to wake up and react episodically. But each time they went back to slumber after Yogi government handled each case with sensitivity and astuteness.
Then, for some time, the media tried to make a splash by trying to posit a former bureaucrat AK Sharma as a competitor of Yogi Adityanath, but failed again. Now they are sensing an opportunity to create excitement by according unduly high importance to this ongoing defections and suggesting as if these can potentially upset Yogi led NDA’s return to Lucknow. As part of this design the media has gone to the absurd extent of projecting SP Maurya as a leader of such great stature who would potentially change the outcome of UP Poll.
This article examines these hypes in the light of facts on ground and comes to the conclusion that the ongoing defections are actually huge positives for BJP and come to it as God sent. There is an important caveat though. The opportunities that arise from these events must be handled with greatest care and diligence. In particular, the party must act keeping in view the lessons it got from West Bengal poll last year. The whole discussion has been organized under ten headings below.
Stellar performance of last 5 years suggests certain win for Yogi led government
To start with, the performance of Yogi government has been exceptional under various parameters and these benefitted the common people the most. To quote examples- law and order, crushing of mafia, women security, building roads medical colleges health facilities, giving free electricity and cooking gas connections, giving poor families homes under PM Awas Yojana, free health insurance to poor, improving road qualities and electricity supply across the state.
Another equally important fact attaching to these developmental work has been honesty, transparency and an unbiased approach in their implementation. That has further amplified the scale of benefits for the poor. As a matter of fact, so much of welfare work at such large scale with such honesty and transparency at such speed has never happened in any state in the history of independent India. No doubt and even the opposition parties will confess in private, these have greatly benefitted very large numbers of poor and common people. They are the largest chunk of voters and Yogi should be their natural choice.
In that case, what makes some leaders leave the winning side?
The common sense conclusion is therefore a certain win for a regime that has done so much for the vast majority. Why then some of its MLAs and a few ministers are leaving the party on the eve of the poll?
To understand their behaviour let us first look at what these leaders cited as reasons for their exit. Their two common refrains are: (a) the government was not doing sufficient for the poor and down trodden; and, (b) they were not getting opportunities to work for common people or even getting suffocated in the Yogi government.
Prima facie, the first of the above two points is absurd in view of all round welfare work done by Yogi government during last 5 years. This logic merits no further attention. The second point however is intriguing. It is evident that these leaders’ feeling of getting suffocated in the government and inside the party were directly proportional to the scale and honesty of implementation of a stupendous volume of developmental work and welfare schemes. That itself speaks volume!
Defectors are helping BJP to get rid of public wrath against non-performer MLAs
These leaders through their ‘suffocation’ statement are sending a clear message. It is that they were not part of the development work for last 5 years and their re-election in BJP ticket could potentially impede the course of development and welfare schemes and work in Yogi’s next term. It is probable that their erstwhile party understood it and were not in favour of getting them tickets. If that is indeed the case, their defections have been good riddance for BJP. Simultaneously it spells bad omen for parties to whom they are defecting. They are carrying with them the negative feelings of constituencies they had earlier represented.
The defectors NPV or Net Present Value is ‘zero’ now
Let us look at the matter from a fresh angle. We know that upon election a MLA has a shelf life of 5 years. As one wins an election, the parliamentary system vesta a MLA with some value. That political value keeps declining with passing time. On the eve of next election, it becomes near zero. His value at that point of time then becomes fully dependant on quality and quantity of public service he or she has performed during last five years. It is not difficult to see that in case of these defectors, their value is almost zero now. Therefore, they are clearly non-factors and their defections would be non-events but for media highlighting them.
Defectors give BJP flexibility to choose new worthier candidates without frictions
It needs to be understood that these defections per se are inconsequential for the ruling party. As a matter of fact, the more non-performing MLAs of BJP defect, the greater is the advantage for the party! As already said, they are of ‘zero value’ and their desertions give flexibility in new candidate selections and reassure voters that the party would set better candidate in their constituencies in the present election.
However, there is an important caveat. It need to be clearly mentioned that selection of right candidates will be the real challenge for the party in general applicable to all constituencies, and that task must be addressed diligently, more so in the defectors’ constituencies. Let us examine the issue in details.
Newly elected MLAs should be able to contribute more actively to building a resurgent UP
There have been several reports in social media that during his present term, the chief minister had to depend more on the bureaucracy than on his MLAs in general to deliver the extra ordinary performance that his government did. There is no doubt that the Yogi-led government’s performance was due superhuman efforts that owed mostly to a leader of exceptional vision and abilities. He was impatient to deliver and when many of his peers were not able to put in commensurate efforts, he leveraged bureaucracy to implement schemes. The lack of due initiative on the MLAs part was not quite unexpected as conventionally the MLAs across the country are accustomed to power and privileges than hard work. If Yogi returns to the helm in 2022, and the process of development has to be strengthened and made more sustainable, the new set of MLAs must participate in the ‘Karma Yagna’ in more wholesome ways. That alone would keep pushing the province to the centre stage of India, as a whole.
Viewed from the above angle, again, the spate of defections from BJP therefore comes as blessings in disguise to the party. Not only would their defections remove negative tinges of anti-incumbency for the party in those constituencies, it would give Yogi the much needed opportunity to identify able, loyal, hardworking, public service-spirited candidates who can work hand in hand with him in the next term.
The criticality of choosing right candidates is the biggest challenge for BJP
This said, now let’s examine the matter in greater details. It is about the principles of selection of candidates in general and these constituencies in specific. Keeping in view the need to keep the momentum of good work going, positioning UP on its trajectory as one of the most important economically and socially developed states, and putting up a shining example to rest of India what can the spirit of civilizational Bharatvarsha achieve, greatest care must be exercised in candidate selection. This cannot be done in the conventional way by mere imposition of High Command’s choice. Yogi Adityanath is the person in charge and he must be given as much weightage as he wants in the selection process. He has successfully implemented a model and must have full leeway to take that process forward. Therein lies the future of UP and India.
BJP must not fall into media trap
The media meanwhile is trying its best to influence this very process of candidate selection. It has been weaving stories of merits of caste-calculation and claiming caste-alienation associated with defection of individual MLAs. These are utter nonsense. Poll after poll have proved that good governance has swept aside all caste arithmetic and consideration. Voters are intelligent and they can discriminate. They know if Yogi does not come back, the host of developmental work will be put to backburner and their dream of UP’s emergence in the centre stage will vanish in no time. BJP must not fall into the media hype and trap. It must ensure putting up right candidates in the place of these defectors.
BJP can ignore lessons of West Bengal elections only at its own peril
In this regard, BJP must never forget the bitter lessons of West Bengal poll, of which wrong selection of candidates was probably most important. Unfortunately in that province, leaders from the centre and other provinces who did not have knowledge of the subtleties of local politics and issues had dominated over the selection process. Several defectors from other parties were given tickets ignoring the loyal old and trusted party leaders and workers. Result? Several of them acted as saboteurs and most of them lost badly. The position in the state is so bad now, the party workers so demoralised and public confidence in the party so much eroded that political analysts feel BJP probably may not be able to retain even half of the LS seats it had in 2019.
UP win is a must if BJP led NDA has to win Lok Sabha Poll in 2024
Clearly, BJP cannot take chances in UP yet again. If it fails to return with a good majority in this state, the hope of winning LS in 2024 will be badly thrashed. On the other hand, a convincing win will badly demoralise its opposition and keep at bay all anti-Indic civilization forces and pave ways for an easy victory for Modi-led NDA. Therefore the party must tread cautiously. It need to understand the spates of defections is a great opportunity to architect a bigger win now than 2017. It also must equally be aware that unless it puts right candidates it will squander that opportunity and spoil its chances in UP in 2022 and LS two years later!