Saturday, March 11, 2017

UP polls: Demonetisation fails to dampen prowess of 'Modi Magic'

Coming within months since the Prime Minister announced the demonetisation move, the stunning victory in Uttar Pradesh and improved performance in Uttarakhand and Manipur have come not only as a major reprieve to Narendra Modi but would heighten party president Amit Shah's image as a performing "poll strategist".

 The big take away for the BJP from this year's polls in country's most populous state, according to party insiders, has been the success of party leaders to convince the electorate that the ban on high value old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes was essentially not anti-poor.

In effect, it means the lethal power of 'Modi magic' as was seen in parliamentary polls of 2014 still remains undiluted in more ways than one.

Within no time the trends for the elections came in, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the mandate in UP especially showed that the people have rejected the opposition charge that demonetisation was anti-poor.  "Its simple. UP results show that people supported demonetisation," said UP BJP spokesperson Mohsin Raza.

"Now that BJP has won UP, these results are a big slap to everyone criticising 'note-bandi' demonetisation," said an enthusiastic BJP worker Pranab Rai, as he distributed sweets to equally jubilant party supporters and cadres.
The opposition parties especially the Congress had tried to make note-ban a major electoral issue.
But the mandate today finally shows people have rather chosen to endorse Mr Modi’s "most controversial policy move" when he had declared about 86 per cent of India’s paper currency illegal. "Demonetisation had caused severe shock," said Congress leader RPN Singh and on the eve of vote count yesterday, another Congress leader Abhishekmanu Singhvi said the election results would not, however, change the 'fact' that the demonetisation was a "historic blunder".

But the mandate only shows, the poor sections believe that Prime Minister did the right thing by hitting the rich and those with black money. In the ultimate analysis, thus questions would be still asked why 'demonetisation' did not upset Modi juggernaut.  One school of thought, including from the likes of Congress leader Mani Shanker Aiyar, said that Prime Minister Modi actually did a great job in selling a 'myth' that demonetisation is pro-poor and pro-masses. 

The short-term impact of demonetisation has been painful, especially for the unorganised sector.

In the run up to the UP polls, bangle industry workers and others in Yadav heartland Firozabad and Shikohabad had also said that the note-ban would affect them adversely. 


However, analysts also say the long-term impact of demonetisation is still unclear, as economists have more often differed in giving their analysis on the same. While the likes of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has called demonetisation as a “despotic action”,agencies such as the World Bank believe that it will be positive.
Other factors those led to BJP's victory is the right caste combinations -- worked by Modi-Amit Shah duo when he could bring about a split between non-Yadavs among OBCs and non-Jatavs among the Dalits.

"The BJP, which has a base among upper-caste Hindus, also used aggressive nationalism as was portrayed during the Ramjas College and Delhi University campuses and corrective steps from the poll debacle in Delhi and Bihar," says a party insider -- who has been in the know of things.
The reference was also to the BJP successfully winning over key leaders from Mayawati-led BSP. BJP leaders also say that in Manipur, the party's performance improved drastically as for the first time the saffron party has emerged as a force to reckon with and gave Congress fight for every inch.
Now that the BJP has able to repeat its success of 2014, it would give a boost to the Prime Minister and also brighten his electoral prospects in 2019.

The BJP's longer-range ambition of improving its numbers in Rajya Sabha and prospect of pursuing economic reforms and implementing 'nationalistic' agenda are also being linked to party's performance in Uttar Pradesh.


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