Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has already declared its Prime Ministerial Candidate – Narendra Modi’s candidature from Varanasi seat of Uttar Pradesh. This has created much buzz among the political class of Lucknow as well of New Delhi. BJP is traditionally powerful in Varanasi and with the political momentum, Narendra Modi has gained in UP, it will take a miracle to defeat Modi in Varanasi. Arvind Kejriwal seems to rise up to the task of challenging Modi in Varanasi, considered by many as a political suicide.
I believe Arvind Kejriwal’s posturing against Modi in Varanasi, will help BJP in UP and ultimately all over the country.
Arvind Kejriwal is attracting anti-traditional parties vote. BJP is fine with Kejriwal attracting Anti-BJP vote as it will spilt the anti-BJP vote among various parties, but the damage that Kejriwal is causing to BJP is the anti-congress electorate that is shifting towards him. This electorate is disillusioned with the Congress party and would have gone with the BJP in the absence of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The division of anti-congress vote harms the prospects of BJP.
But there is a different angle to the scenario that would unveil if Kejriwal fights against Modi.
If Kejriwal fights against Modi and is successfully able to position himself as Modi’s main challenger, he will attract the anti-Modi vote, mainly Muslim votes from UP. This will help BJP to strengthen its position in UP.
The Upper Castes (Brahmins, Kayasths, et cetera) are strongly consolidating around Modi, the Dalits and other Lower Castes, who traditionally support Mayawati’s BSP, are increasingly being attracted towards Modi due to his Lower Caste status. The middle class has always been a supporter of Modi. The Muzzafarnagar Riots have led the Jat community towards Modi. How Yadav voters will play, is still a mystery. Its only the Muslim voters that are still largely opposed to Modi.
Here Kejriwal comes into play. The Muslims in UP have a history of tactical voting. They support the candidate that has the highest possibility of defeating BJP. Muslims are disillusioned with SP due to the recent riots, with Congress, due to its 10 year dismal rule of the country and are considered to rally around the BSP. But Muslims know that Mayavati could ally with BJP after elections and cannot be trusted. Here a party named AAP comes, with its leader having relatively more credibility than the others, and is vocal about his anti-Modi thoughts and offering an actual future to Muslims, not the fear tactics that other parties adopt to gain Muslim votes by using BJP and Modi’s name. This would attract a considerable, though not majority, of Muslim and anti-Modi votes towards AAP and would divide an already fractured Muslim vote that cannot decide whether to vote for Cong, SP or BSP.
This would greatly fracture the anti-Modi, anti-BJP and Muslim votes in the state and would actually increase BJP’s chances of winning.
Arvind Kejriwal’s move against Modi may actually help Modi and BJP to win seats where Muslim Votes may spoil BJP’s chances.
The political equations are rapidly changing in Uttar Pradesh and the politics of the state is becoming increasingly interesting, and how AAP affects the fortunes of other parties in UP would be challenge for Pollsters.