I am a BJP supporter. Which means that I must often answer to myself, if not to others, why I would support the BJP. First of all, I am glad the answer is not in terms my caste or sub-caste, unlike what could be said for the vast majority of supporters of several major parties. Ok, so what’s the reason? Can I honestly say that the BJP doesn’t have people who are corrupt, rotten and slimy to the core? Of course not, especially these days with an increasing flood of political refugees from the Congress and other political filth washing up on the shores of the BJP, which is greedily and gladly giving them asylum.
Well, being a right winger, I am a big believer in the principle of “rational self-interest”. It means that people do best when working in their own self interest for obvious personal gain, rather that when they are motivated by abstract concerns such as the common good, humanity, loyalty or even patriotism. Self-interest is the trump card due to which free enterprise beats socialist imposition every single time.
So, the reason I support the BJP is that I feel their interests are aligned with our national interests (and the exact reverse is true for Congress and other caste based parties). The BJP has a clear electoral dividend to harvest from a developed, modern India and the Congress has literally nothing to gain from it. You don’t need BJP to be honest, dedicated or even patriotic: all that matters is that a developed India helps BJP win more elections. So if you want a developed India, go for BJP.
Here’s why. Let’s see what makes Gujarat such an impregnable fortress for BJP? It’s not Hindutva. It’s not even Modi. It’s the simple arithmetic of urbanization. The 182 member Gujarat Assembly has 65 urban seats and the BJP has a stranglehold on them. Currently, it has 62 of these 65 seats! And no matter what, it will always have these seats. In Gujarat, the BJP always starts its batting from 60* not out and Congress starts batting from 0*. With the majority mark just ~30 seats away at 92, it is easy to see why BJP is quite simply invincible in Gujarat.
Let’s take Bihar, where the BJP recently lost very badly. How many seats does BJP have in the Bihar Assembly? Just 53. Do you know how many of these 53 seats are urban seats? 27! That’s right…more than half of BJP’s seats in Bihar came from urban areas. In fact, despite a completely united opposition, the BJP was actually leading in urban areas! That’s how strong BJP is in urban India, especially now under Modi. Spare a moment here to look at Bihar’s sister state of Jharkhand. Although BJP usually dominates all Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, it usually never does quite as well in Jharkhand Assembly polls. But BJP has managed to stay the single largest party in Jharkhand ever since the state was established in 2000. Why? Because BJP wins all the urban seats in the state and unlike Bihar the urban seats are almost enough to guarantee largest party status to BJP.
Trivia: Jharkhand might be the only state in the Republic in which BJP has always been single largest party. Are there any others? I wonder…
So, what does this have to do with the M vote in Uttar Pradesh? Well, the key difference between UP and Bihar is urbanization. Uttar Pradesh is a lot more urbanized than Bihar and this will make all the difference.
Now the fun part. Yes, UP has a HUGE Muslim vote, like Bihar. But wait…this M vote is not equally distributed. The M vote in urban areas can go up to a formidable 35% but in rural areas it is more like 15%. Which means the M vote is not big enough to destroy the BJP in rural areas, while BJP is going to sweep the urban areas anyway.
To estimate how BJP might do in urban UP, let’s start from the BJP’s lowest point in Bihar. Even in Bihar, we know that BJP was ahead of the UNITED opposition in urban areas. Now, add in these factors:
(a) Opposition in UP is divided into at least two pieces, sometimes even 3 pieces.
(b) UP has a huge upper caste vote, unlike Bihar.
(c) UP has a long history of responding to Hindutva, unlike Bihar which is more of a Mandal state.
(d) Aura of surgical strikes around Modi.
It is now not difficult to see why BJP will simply SWEEP urban Uttar Pradesh. And urban UP accounts for a huge number of seats. Then turn to rural areas where there simply aren’t enough M voters to stop the BJP. And while Muslims are still confused about the strongest opponent of BJP, the news of Muslims looking to polarize is already common sense information for every Hindu in Uttar Pradesh. Those planning to polarize are still trying to decide who to polarize around, but counter-polarized votes know exactly where to go.
And these days, I believe there is a block of at least 5% that votes for “development”. These are the most informed and conscious voters (mainly youth), who are not thinking in terms of caste. In Bihar, the BJP had to share this vote with Nitish Kumar. In UP, Akhilesh could have got some of this, but this 5% segment I am talking about has already understood that he isn’t going to win. Mayawati actually could have gotten a bite of this 5% by showcasing her impressive law and order record. But she hasn’t done that….instead she is busy cravenly appeasing the M community. And this 5% block of conscious and informed voters finds that kind of politics simply abhorrent. So, rest assured that the BJP is getting this 5% in its entirety. In a state where the last two elections were won by the party that got a mere 30% of the vote (SP didn’t actually even reach 30% in 2012…they were 29 and some fraction), this means UP is already in the BJP’s bag.
At 30%, BJP will emerge as single largest party. Every additional 1% will give them 15-20 more seats. At 35%, they will be close to 300. I believe the BJP has already crossed the 30% threshold quite comfortably. With a base of 43% from the Lok Sabha polls and all recent opinion polls showing Modi’s popularity almost at same level as mid 2014, it would be surprising if BJP is anywhere below 33% at the moment. That’s my assessment. I will wait for one more survey… the one from Dr. Patil to be completely sure. Otherwise, this election is “done and dusted“.