Barely five years ago, in 2012, the political map of Uttar Pradesh was a crimson dominated rainbow, bearing the imprint of a spectacular Samajwadi Party victory over Mayawati’s blue brigade. This Holi, the rainbow has changed hue again—now it’s awash in saffron, with other shades jostling for presence. It signifies not just a power shift from the SP to the Bharatiya Janata Party—triggered by an extraordinary saffron surge—but the rout of the regional forces at the hands of a national party after a decade-and-a-half of eventful politics in the state.
To many, the BJP’s landslide in UP is a mere reassertion of the verdict of 2014, when the party won 71 of the state’s 80 seats (the NDA won 73) in the Lok Sabha election. However, the important question is what caused the two back-to-back landslides, in 2014 and 2017, for the BJP in less than three years. The Ram Janma bhoomi movement in the early 1990s had brought about the party’s previous peak during the three successive assembly elections in 1991, 1993 and 1996. Today, when the Ram temple issue lies dormant, sub judice in the Supreme Court, how does one explain the remarkable rise in the BJP’s stock in 2017? Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership skills and extraordinary nationwide appeal since 2014, and BJP president Amit Shah’s enviable record and expertise in election management, the most obvious answer seems to be electoral and social