The Dangal in Mulayam Singh’s Yadav clan and Samajwadi Party and Tata’s tussle with Cyrus Mistry have pushed everything else in the background. The US Presidential race between Trump and Hillary is in its decisive phase. The post ‘surgical strikes’ situation at LOC remains tense. BSF recently countered Pakistan’s transgression. The ISI spy ring involving Pakistan High Commission’s staffer has been busted. All these and equally important issues like Triple Talaq have been pushed into the background.
If newspaper headlines and news channels’ tickers reflected public mood or political realities, we would not have had Narendra Modi led BJP and NDA sweeping the 2014 polls. Had the criticism of PM Modi’s Pakistan policy in media been founded on facts and logic, the surgical strikes would not have happened. The financial meltdown of 2008 and Brexit also would not have happened.
About four months back, UP elections looked to be a difficult challenge for BJP. BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 with UP contributing a lion’s share to the tally. But subsequently, BJP had lost Bihar to the Mahagathabandhan of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar. It was unable to counter the caste arithmetic and propaganda about reservations. In UP, the BJP couldn’t decide on a CM candidate. The party had been out of power for over a decade. Despite Amit Shah’s undeniable credentials as a great election manager the going seemed to be tough for BJP. Read https://www.myind.net/elections-bjps-tough-road-ahead
In June, this author had argued that BJP needs to play to its strengths and not weaknesses like caste arithmetic. He had summed up the challenge as: “BJP is without an overarching emotive promise which can galvanize this fractured society to come out its nooks and crannies, to come together and vote for it”
Now there is a big shift in public mood.
The surgical strikes against Pakistan have resonated with people throughout the country cutting across sub identities like caste, language and religion. The Modi government and India’s brave Army fulfilled the fervent wish of every Indian ( Read https://www.myind.net/aftermath-uri-attacks-what-india-expects-pm-narendra-modi ) and the nation gave an overwhelming approval to the government and the army (Read https://www.myind.net/strategic-restraint-surgical-strikes-pakistans-terror-camps-what-next )
The Congress led opposition soon realized this and started doubting the ‘surgical strikes’ themselves. When this backfired, Congress claimed that surgical strikes had happened during the UPA regime too. When this too didn’t impress people, it started telling PM Modi and BJP ‘not take political advantage of army’s success’. These are sure signs that Congress and opposition have realized that they have lost credibility and considerable public support.
The Triple Talaq issue is now unraveling. The Modi government came out convincingly against continuation of this regressive practice under the pretext of religious freedom. PM Modi said “Can’t allow lives of Muslim women to be ruined by triple talaq” (read ). He also said that this is not a Hindu-Muslim issue. His government has framed this issue in terms of ‘compatibility with India’s constitution and gender justice’.
So far, the Samajwadi Party had assumed that Muslim votes would accrue in its account. The Mulayam-Akhilesh feud has left Akhilesh government doddering. Its election prospects now look much worse than before -whether the patch up happens or not. It is difficult to see how even its ‘own Yadavs’, leave alone Muslims, will feel assured enough to vote for it.
Mayawati’s BSP was ascending earlier. But BSP has been plagued by large scale attrition of senior leaders -some no doubt disgruntled by larger allocation to Muslim candidates.
The triple talaq issue is bound to make some Muslims think again. Those who are with Mullahs and Maulvis will remain opposed to the BJP. Out of the 18% share of Muslims in UP, 9% will be women. Even if half of them and some men rethink, we are talking about a probable swing of 4 to 5% away from parties which don’t oppose Triple Talaq. Mayawati has told the Modi Government to leave Muslims alone -in other words let Muslim women suffer until the Mullahs see light. Her ‘target constituency of young Muslims’ are not going to be very convinced about her stand. Her idea of attracting Brahmins is also going to be difficult. The Samajwadi Party is not in a position to take a stand on the issue and it may default to support for continuation of Triple Talaq. Congress is an insignificant player in UP. It is still hedging the issue. It would like to get Muslim votes, but it also is in a race to get Brahmin votes. This hedging is not going to make it more popular.
Coming on the back of surgical strikes, Modi government’s stand on Triple Talaq must have further cemented BJP’s core support base. In a multi-cornered election a 4 to 5 % swing of votes and consolidation of broad support bases will be decisive factors.
PM Modi has led the charge for BJP on Triple Talaq. His hugely popular Pakistan policy and credible development appeal are big strengths for the BJP. The opposition parties, which so far relied on caste and religion vote banks, will find it tough to face the BJP. It is for BJP to take advantage of confusion in the ranks of opposition parties and surge ahead.
Image Credits: ANI News
This article was first published at https://www.myind.net/dangal-sp-yadav-family-muslim-vote-bjp-rise#.dpuf