“Save my honour” pleaded a teary eyed Savita Devi near the polling booth in the primary school of Murtazapur to all groups of men who were walking down the lane to cast their votes. Savita Devi is one of the scores of Jat women whose sons and husbands have been jailed for the Peda-Nayagaon riots of 2016. It is these women who fanned out across the district extolling the usually lazy Hindus to rise up to the occasion and vote for the lotus. In fact, BJP had smartly given the Bijnortown ticket to Suchi Chaudhary whose husband(an RSS worker here) has also been imprisoned in that same riot case. Locals say each one of those arrested is a Jat while not a single Muslim rioter has been touched!
It is this group of Jat women who literally turned the tide in favour of BJP in the second phase of UP elections. If the tears of a woman often trigger a revolution, then the Bijnor rescue act of the United Spectrum of Hindu Votes by the Jat women was nothing short of a mini revolution that has managed to keep the lotus afloat in western UP. After a surprisingly weak show in phase 1 where BJP was supposed to sweep, the saffron party desperately needed massive polarization of Hindu voters in order to keep itself in the hunt for the throne of Lucknow. Indeed, Bijnor voted for lotus yesterday in substantially large numbers.
As the polling day began yesterday, the past electoral data and the demographics of this region were clearly tilted against the saffron party. If BJP had done poorly in two successive rounds, there was very little hope of a recovery. In fact, all the pointers going into this phase suggested that the Samajwadi-Congress alliance could potentially sweep this region where together they had 37 sitting MLAs from 2012. The average Muslim population of this region was over 33% which essentially meant 1 out of every 3 voters here was a Muslim which in actual weighted data could go as high as 1 out of every 2, because Muslim voter turnout is generally 20 to 30% higher than Hindu voters. BJP had only 9 sitting MLAs in this region and even in the 2014 Modi wave election, the party’s vote-share was 10% lower than the rest of the western UP region that went to polls in phase 1.
It is under such bleak conditions that the USHV seems to have shined for the BJP once again. What aided this rear-guard Hindu battle was also a big split in the Muslim votes. Since the last few months there has been a sinister game played by the secular-Lutyens clique to somehow amalgamate the entire Muslim vote into a one party entity so that BJP can be defeated at any cost. A massive media narrative was built around the Akhilesh-Rahul alliance sweeping the “Muslim voters off their feet” over the last 1 month or so, in order to create a sort of wave of minority traction against the BJP. To some extent this narrative succeeded too, especially in the 1st phase on February the 11th. But what we witnessed in the second phase was a virtual split among the Mulsim voters between the SP-INC alliance on the one hand and the BSP on the other hand. In fact, in many places, BSP was the first choice of a vast number of Muslim voters. Many big SP Muslim faces seem to have lost the battle yesterday due to this phenomenon of Muslim vote division not only between SP & BSP but also between AIMIM and RLD among others. Our initial assessment was that the Muslim vote split could still have given the grand alliance a lion’s share, but after deeper analysis of all the reports and data we now believe it was more in the 50:50 range between the SP-INC alliance on the one hand and BSP along with other smaller players on the other side. Such a vote split could mean Akhilesh Yadav’s doom in the coming days.
While the Muslim vote was getting split vertically, the Hindus were all consolidating behind the lotus on Wednesday. Upper castes, all non-Yadav OBCs (including Jats) and a section of non-Jatav Dalits were all polarized in totality. For instance in the district of Moradabad where all the sitting MLAs belong to the minorities, Hindus were determined to show their strength by voting for BJP in total solidarity. Similarly in Sambhal, where Muslim vote was splitting along Turk and non-Turk segments, Hindus had the solitary aim of pressing the Lotus button on the EVM machines. With such a background of polarization, here are the 6 factorials of Uttar Pradesh after phase 2;