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Mahila + Yojana: How BJP Rode the New M-Y wave in Uttar Pradesh Elections

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Mahila + Yojana: How BJP Rode the New M-Y wave in Uttar Pradesh Elections

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Capturing this undercurrent and to showcase Yogi government’s achievements on the front, the BJP leaders, in their poll rallies and election meetings, often repeated names of gangster-turned-politicians Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmad and others, including SP leader Azam Khan. All three are currently in jail.

Mahila + Yojana: How BJP Rode the New M-Y wave in Uttar Pradesh Elections
The old caste and community based M-Y equation, it seems, has given way to the new governance-based M-Y model of appealing to the voters in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
While Samajwadi Party (SP) kept its Muslim-Yadav or M-Y support base intact in this poll, it’s the Bharatiya Janata Party’s M-Y or Mahila + Yojana (women + government schemes) that possibly helped the saffron party romp home back with flying colours.
In the days leading to the polls, CNN-News18 had traveled across Uttar Pradesh to gauge public opinion and sentiments of voters. We discovered that there may be other governance-related grievances, but one success of the Yogi Government that everyone talked about was its handling of the law and order situation in the state. Women or Mahila being the biggest and direct beneficiaries of the improved policing.
During their poll rallies, top BJP leaders, including PM Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath, made it a point to make people recall the alleged “lawlessness and anarchy” prevailing during the SP rule and how the Yogi-led government brought the Ram Rajya on this front in the state. BJP leaders made the issue their central point of campaign.
“Five years ago, dabangg (muscle men) and dangai (rioters) used to run the show in UP. Their words were treated as government orders. Today, UP’s farmers, employees, traders or mothers, sisters and daughters, everyone is getting protection and respect,” PM Modi had said in his first virtual rally or ‘Jan Chaupal’ on January 31.
GROUND CONNECT
The law and order pitch found many takers on ground. In Shankargarh village of Jhansi in Bundelkhand, 19-year-old Khusboo Rajput said, “Abhi poore gaon ki ladkiyan jati hain bahar padhne, pehle ek bhi nahin jaati thi, yahan tak ke gaon ke school mein bhi kam jati thi padhne…ab bahar ja rahi hain kyonki ab safety hai isliye….”
In Meerut’s Mawana, famous for its sugar and Jat politics, Rajbala Gill shared the sentiment. “This government has done significantly better on women security than the previous governments — Jitni suraksha de rakhi hai, utni kisi ne nahin di thi,” Gill said, appreciating the government’s law and order push.
And not just in the remote rural belt, in cities too, we found ample number of women praising the government for the improved security scenario.
“The BJP is better, they may not have delivered on everything, but are better than most because they did something…earlier I was told by my parents to return home by 6 pm. Now, there is no problem even if we return by 10 pm,” said Priyanshi Rathi, a first-year MBA student at the Meerut Institute of Engineering And Technology.
When asked about the issue she will vote for, Sonal Baghel, a young student in Firozabad and first-time voter, said, “I think, it’s my safety. I will prefer the BJP because safety is a big issue for us.”
GANGSTER CANDIDATES
Capturing this undercurrent and to showcase Yogi government’s achievements on the front, the BJP leaders, in their poll rallies and election meetings, often repeated names of gangster-turned-politicians Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmad and others, including SP leader Azam Khan. All three are currently in jail.
Invoking these names worked both ways for the BJP. First, it presented a no-nonsense approach of the Yogi government in dealing with the criminals. Second, it helped in cornering the SP, as during its rule Bahubali leaders enjoyed considerable clout, not just outside, but also inside the jail.
The focus of the campaign on law and order was so much so that even the bulldozer entered the political narrative. Attacking the Samajwadi Party during an election meeting in Shahjahanpur, Adityanath had said: “The BJP government keeps development on the one hand and a bulldozer on the other. This bulldozer is used to run over the mafia. For this reason, women in the state are safe, and the girls are going to schools.”
In the absence of any polarisation pitch and to counter any possible anti-incumbency, the BJP played on its strong pitch of ‘sashan’ or administration and it has paid back well. Not just has the issue helped the BJP create history in the state, but also revived the five-year-old anti-incumbency against the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav-led government.
RECORDS SHOW
The “kanoon vyavastha” echoes on the ground also find resonance in the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, which shows that overall cases of crime against women in the state came down from 56,011 in 2017 to 49,385 in 2020 i.e. a decline of 11.8 percent in the first four years of the Yogi regime.
The decline also finds a reflection in other heinous crime against women, including rape, attempt to rape, acid attacks, kidnapping and abduction, etc.
In 2020, the state reported 2,709 rape cases, a decline of 43 percent compared to 2016’s 4,816. Attempt to rape cases fell by 87 percent from 1,958 cases in 2016 to 251 in 2020. Acid attacks almost halved from 52 cases in 2016 to 27 in 2020, a fall of 48 percent. Cases of kidnapping and abduction, too, recorded a dip from 12,994 cases in 2016 to 9,109 cases in 2020, a decline of 22.7 percent, as per the NCRB data.
THE SCHEMES
The election took place amid the economic gloom fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced slowdown. Among top concerns and complaints of the voters was the rise in prices of essential goods, including the LPG cylinder, edible oils and petroleum.
However, the yojanas or the schemes run by both the Centre and the state government saved the day for the BJP. On November 4, 2021, during the ‘Deepotsav’ celebrations in Ayodhya, CM Yogi had announced extension of the state government’s free ration scheme till Holi. Later, the central government, too, extended its free ration distribution under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) till March 2022, making people entitled for double benefits every month.
The UP government termed its scheme as the “biggest ration distribution campaign ever in the country” and it seems to have made the BJP favourite among poor voters, especially women, cutting across the deep caste divide.
Ration mila hai, Kamal badhiya hai, do baar mil raha hai ,” said Sonkali Devi, a Shankhwar Kori, a scheduled caste bangle maker in glass city Firozabad.
A total of 15 crore beneficiaries were covered under the state government’s scheme. Centre’s food security welfare scheme PMGKAY is running since March 2020, when the first Covid-19 wave hit the country.
Besides free ration, direct cash transfer schemes like PM-Kisan; houses under PM Awas Yojana; toilets in homes of poor under Swachh Bharat Mission, mid-day meal scheme etc. too possibly boosted the BJP’s return to power.
“Farmers have got Rs 6,000 directly into their bank accounts, toilets have been made, we are getting free ration,” said Malti Devi, an OBC we met in eastern UP’s Ghazipur’s Sakartali village.
However, she also expressed her concern over joblessness. “Beta padha likha hai aur naukri nahin hai, beta ko naukri lag jaye to theek rahe, ghar par baitha rehta hai, naukri ke bina.. ,” Devi lamented.
Savita, another woman we met in Ghazipur, too, expressed her unhappiness over joblessness and price rise. However, she voiced her unwillingness to vote for the SP saying at least the Yogi government is doing something. “Mehangai hai, bete ko naukri nahin hai, lekin kahan jayenge, ye sarkar kuch to ki hai, SP gunda party hai…,” she said.
These sentiments were also recorded by the enumerators of Axis My India exit poll, which found that the “delivery of Modi’s social welfare schemes and improved law and order situation by Yogi state government is scoring big time above all the issues”.
“The single biggest difference between both the parties (BJP and SP) is women voters. Women are voting extraordinarily in favour of the BJP, where the difference is 16 percent as against 4 percent difference among men voters,” Axis My India exit poll predicted.
While 32 percent women voters opted for the SP-led alliance, the figure was 48 percent for the BJP-led NDA, Axis further noted.
THE COMPETITION
It’s not that other political parties remained sitting duck while the BJP ate the cake. In fact, as early as October last year, Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, made a big political move by announcing 40 percent of the party’s tickets for women candidates. No other party even dared to announce anything closer to this. The Grand Old Party positioned its poll campaign on women empowerment with ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ theme, besides promising 40 percent quota in government jobs, 25 percent in police through its special manifesto, exclusively meant for women voters in Uttar Pradesh.
Other parties like SP, BSP and RLD, too, left no stone unturned. Yadav, in his campaign, talked of Mahila and youth as SP’s new M-Y equation, besides crediting his government for launching 1090, the women helpline number for UP Police. Ally RLD even went on to promise 50 percent quota for women in government jobs.
However, these tall promises targeting “aadhi abadi” failed miserably before the BJP’s “sashan and rashan” (governance and ration) push.
The voters instead chose to believe and vote for what they were getting for real.
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