BJP AND VARANASI

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2014

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1980 after disintegration of the Janata Party and integration of its Jana Sangh elements.

BJP fought its first parliamentary election in 1984 winning just two seats. But it was soon to spread to the extent to stake claim to form government in Uttar Pradesh, to become the principal political opposition and to form the union government in 1996.

The party has had a mixed history when assessed on parameter of political winnability nationally and regionally, but when it comes to Banaras, it has ruled the constituency since 1991 (except 2004).

And though this BJP rule has largely been ineffective for bringing development in Banaras, a constituency that has become the most important parliamentary constituency of the General Elections 2014 with Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal contesting from the seat, the prospect of being the parliamentary constituency of the prime minister has once again pushed for looking back to the BJP history in the constituency.

BJP’s stint with Varanasi began in 1984 with the party candidate Om Prakash Singh finishing 4th securing 12.7% votes. And it soon became a winning stint in 1991 when BJP’s Shreesh Chandra Dixit won the seat securing 41% votes, 9% more than the runner-up, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Raj Kishore.

General elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999 saw Varanasi electing BJP’s Shankar Prasad Jaiswal, a good for nothing candidate. He began with over 45% of votes, slid to 33% in the 1999 polls and lost the 2004 election to Rajesh Mishra of Congress securing only 24% votes. If Shankar Prasad Jaiswal could win three terms without doing anything for the constituency, it only tells how safe a seat Varanasi had become for the BJP.

(But what led to this equation between BJP and Varanasi? – Polarisation of Hindu votes along the religious lines in the religious and spiritual capital of Hinduism and India – after the Ram Janmabhoomi movement)

Jaiswal’s loss in 2004 was BJP’s loss more than a Congress win. Voters sent the message to the party that they could not be taken for granted and were ready for change, were ready to experiment.

But BJP should have thanked Rajesh Mishra for being just like Jaiswal in ignoring the constituency that helped BJP win back in the seat in 2009. And the similar observation can be made about Rajesh Mishra’s loss in 2009, that it was more of Congress’ loss than Murli Manohar Joshi’s win.

The narrow margin of Joshi’s win (just over 17,000) over BSP’s Mukhtar Ansari told us the voters were yet to forgive the party fully and it was only the tall stature of Joshi that he could secure the win (with 30.5% votes only).

But, Joshi also proved ineffective. He didn’t do what he was expected to do, and that too, after Jaiswal’s fiasco.

Had it not been for Narendra Modi, BJP was certainly going to lose the seat this time. And if Narendra Modi is poised to win, it has to do with his prime-ministerial claims and his pro-development image gelled well with his polarising image, something that helped the BJP make and build inroads in the constituency in 1990s.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

OVER 55%: A NEEDED JUMP IN VARANASI POLL PERCENTAGE

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2014

At around 6:15 PM, when the press officer of the Election Commission held its presser, the calculated poll percentage in Varanasi was at over 55% (55.34% to be precise).

And it is to go up when the Election Commission releases the finally tabulated data.

It is indeed an achievement for the Banarasis and the political spirit of the city, the religious and spiritual capital of India, to change and to adopt the change, a need of the day to raise its voice on the neglect it is facing and to demand growth and development.

Yes, it can be said the figure of 55% is not something to feel good about. But when we see it in the context of the electoral history of Varanasi and in the backdrop of the voting trends in the metro cities of the country, we find the jump is good enough.

Varanasi has not seen its poll percentage crossing 50% mark since 1984 when the Lok Sabha election in the city registered 54.94% voting. In 2009 polls, the poll percentage was 42.61%.

Also, the voting trend in big and metro cities of India has been around 50% if we take the average of all such cities. In many cities, it has been in the range of 40 to 50%.

And a 14% jump election-on-election, from 2009 to 2014, is huge for the electoral outcome and the dependent sociopolitical developments. It is more than enough to shatter all pre-existing trends. It tells how strong the wave of change in the city has been this time.

And the wave of change Varanasi aspires for and needs is for the ‘paradigm shift’ in the approach on how the city should be developed, maintaining its ancient heritage, its contemporary culture and its present and future requirements of being a global spiritual and tourism destination.

It tells Banarasis are looking for and ready to go with the candidate they think can bring development to the city. The increased participation of voters tells many more aspire to be part of the decision making process this time now.

Bravo dear Banarasis. It is the way to go. Hopefully, the trend maintains an upswing in the elections to come.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/