UP Elections — Battle for the Holy Land
This article is the sixth section of a larger series that weighs up the reasons given for the demonetisation of 86% of Indian currency, and also seeks to uncover the true compulsions behind the monumental action.
The entire study can be viewed as one article. Link below.
Uttar Pradesh is, by far, India’s most significant state. If Uttar Pradesh (UP) was a country, it would be the world’s 5th most populous country. The sacred cities of Varanasi and Ayodhya — central to the Hindutva narrative — are situated in UP. 1 in every 3 Indian youths hail from Bihar or UP.
Uttar Pradesh is, the beating heart of Hindusthan.
In a resounding victory, the BJP trounced all comers in 2014 , taking 89% of Lok Sabha seats, with 31% of the vote share. However, in last year’s Bihar assembly elections they weren’t able to capitalise on the 55% of Lok Sabha seats they took in 2014, and were routed by the mahagathbandhan. To stem the flow, a win in UP is of vital importance.
The 7-phase UP elections have been scheduled to start on the 11th of February & end on the 8th of March.
Are you implying that UP Elections was a motive behind Demonetisation?
Just after the Nov. 8th announcement, that exact thought was expressed by numerous political commentators, from both sides of the fence.
Finally, we arrive at the immediate cause for the pre-emptive strike that was #demonetisation: Black money. Lot’s of it! This being election season — all the more of it. Entire sackfuls sitting in various godowns littered across the state. And booze too!
As one can tell from the table below — and these are only the official statistics — the SP & BSP have made a lot of money while in power. In 2010–11, BSP, raked in 116 Cr., almost as much as the 168 Cr. BJP managed — as a national party spread across 20+ states. Whereas, income for the Samajwadi Party has been outperforming since coming to power — almost 170 Cr. per year; and we haven’t even received FY16 numbers.
The lower reaches of India’s dance of democracy function in a distinctly timocratic manner — quite antithetical to the principles of a democratic state. Here, aspiring MLAs must deposit 1–2 Cr. (or maybe a lot more) with the party, upon which they are given a ‘ticket’ to contest the election as their candidate; such sale of tickets will be happening this year, at least not with the same ease.
Mass rallies, which are sponsored by ‘fast cash’ sourced from local traders & factory owners — small & large — shall now be held on smaller scale, and there wont be too many “freebies” for voters.
How does this help the BJP? Their stashes get neutralized too.
With respect to political party donations, the BJP have truly walked the talk and gone cashless. Political parties can now accept donations from abroad and the BJP has been milking that foreign cow for all it’s worth, read: Modi’s worldwide rockstar concerts.
An analysis of donations from the corporate/business sector, by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) reveals that in 2014–15, the BJP alone garnered 409.94 Cr. or 71% of the total 576.37 Cr. received by all national political parties.
According to the Delhi-based Center for Media Studies (CMS), which tracks campaign financing, the BJP relies on cash for less than two-thirds of its funding in a state like Uttar Pradesh. Unlike the SP & BSP, who rely on unnamed sources for every rupee of their funding.
The BJP’s close ties to big corporate donors, can help them survive the cash crunch better than others.
“With big business and the super-rich firmly on his side, Modi does not need funds from traders and contractors to run his party.” — Hindusthan Times, Nov. 14, 2016
It can also bank on the manpower of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which will campaign on its behalf, with the tab for that campaigning not picked up by the BJP — Scroll.in, 16th Nov 2016.
But the BJP already thrashed everyone in the 2014 national elections. They’re now sitting comfortably with a huge majority in parliament. Why do they need to win more state elections?
Besides UP’s emotional worth to the Hindutva narrative, control of the province’s state administration will offer the BJP numerous advantages in the lead up to the national election of 2019.
Politics is an endless game of chess. While you might presently hold more pieces & thereby control of the board, a strategically-positioned opponent Queen can thwart your chances of all-out attack; that is precisely what the Rajya Sabha — our ‘upper’ house of parliament — is to the BJP right now. Their National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are close to a special majority in the Lok Sabha with a strength of 339/545 seats, or 62%, whereas in the Rajya Sabha they are in the minority with only 74/245 seats, or 31%, as of January 2017.
Control of both houses of parliament is something the BJP & its alliance urgently desires. Their exclusionary ‘my way or the highway’ approach to politics allows for few neutrals. Our constitution dictates that of the 4 typesof bills (passed into laws), Ordinary Bills, Constitutional Amendment Bills, Financial Bills require at minimum a simple majority in both houses. Only Money Bills can be passed by a Lok Sabha majority alone. And this is precisely where the Rajya Sabha becomes a thorn in the side for the BJP-led NDA.
For example, to officially cancel the old HDN as ‘legal tender’ they need to get a law passed by both houses. At present they cannot do that.
Also, there’s the bit about Congress-mukt-bharat, BJP’s current pet project.
Uttar Pradesh sends a whopping 31 seats to the Rajya Sabha — the largest, by a distance, for any state. The 5 states — UP , Punjab , Uttarakhand , Goa  & Manipur  — are going to the polls in Feb-March 2017, together send 53 seats to the upper house of parliament. Electoral gains in these assembly elections, could help in securing a good proportion of the 74 Rajya Sabha seats which are up for election in 2017 & 2018.
A haul of anywhere close to 50 of those 74 seats would effectively see the NDA wrest power of the Rajya Sabha by 2018, comfortably placing them in the driving seat before the all-important 2019 referendum.