Virtually backing the banned exit polls carried out by the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran's online site as also other surveys, top scribe Rajdeep Sardesai has predicted in a blog, written by him at the end of the three rounds of polling for UP state assembly, it's “advantage BJP”, with Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance being “still in the hunt.”
Sardesai's prediction is based, to quote him, “The BJP talks of sabka saath sabka vikas in Delhi but on the ground the campaign is getting more shrill and polarised in an attempt to create a Hindu-Muslim divide.”
Pointing out that “there has been a distinct and disturbing communal edge to the BJP campaign, especially in western UP”, Sardesai says, “The key now lies in eastern UP where the BJP will look to achieve further consolidation of its Hindu, non Yadav OBC/EBC, upper caste alliance to pull firmly ahead.”
In a series of tweets over the last two days, Sardesai has said, the two chief opponents of the BJP, SP-Congress alliance and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are preying “on fears of a Muslim 'vote bank'”, creating “conditions for a Hindu backlash.”
He has also tweeted, “Wither 'secular' politics? Muslims demonised by BJP, 'used' by SP-Congress and Mayawati!”.
Commenting on the latest controversial comment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding equality of the Muslim graveyard and the Hindu cremation ground in village, he tweets, “BJP hasn't given a single Muslim a ticket: How do you ensure 'sabka saath sabka vikas' without any political representation?”
A top right-wing site has, meanwhile, has reported a survey by Times Now-VMR, saying that BJP will win “at least 202 out of the 403 total seats” in the UP assembly elections, winning 34% of the vote share. The SP-Congress alliance, “formed to prevent BJP from coming to power in the state, will manage to win only 147 seats” attracting a “little over 31 per cent vote share”, it adds.
After visiting UP on several occasions, Sardesai says, “The BJP remains in pole position at the half way mark. In almost every region, the BJP is in the race and the party has a wider social coalition, giving it a slight edge over its rivals who have strong pockets of influence.”
No doubt, he says, “There is no Modi wave like 2014 this time, but the prime minister is still the most popular leader across caste and communities (except Muslims). The failure though to build a strong, credible local leadership remains an Achilles heel. The PM's appeal is in fact well above the party.”
Sardesai believes, “The BJP's core vote among upper castes and traders in urban pockets is intact despite demonetisation which is not a decisive issue on the ground. It's incremental 'plus' vote is coming from the extremely backward castes... who are numerically strong. It's the non-Yadav OBC who is emerging as the BJP's key vote bank. ”
As for SP's Akhilesh Yadav, says Sardesai, he is “emerging as a pan-UP leader in his own right”, though adding, “There is little anger against him but his MLAs do face anti incumbency. Akhilesh is particularly popular among youth who see him as a face of the future. Law and order is a major concern in urban areas, but Akhilesh is rated strongly as a development oriented leader.”
No doubt, he says, the SP-Congress combine has “unified the Muslim vote considerably and there is little division in the Muslim vote between the SP and the BSP that the BJP is hoping for. The alliance today is essentially an MY (Muslim Yadav) consolidation of votes but it is struggling to get incremental votes.”
However, he regrets, the Congress, which is a "weak link" in the alliance, "is unable to easily transfer its traditional upper caste votes to the SP candidates in the alliance.”
Coming to Mayawati, says Sardesai, she is “ struggling to make an impact, adding, “Her Jatav vote is intact, but she is unable to attract the 'plus' vote that was crucial to her success in the past, especially in 2007. Even the Muslim vote has gone to her only in limited areas where the BSP candidate was very strong.”