- The elevation state’s diagnostic inclination for non-Congress, non-BJP parties, and the waning popularity of the BJP, could trigger a three-way electoral contention adjacent year, with Arvind Kejriwal’s outfit the apt beneficiary
The 21 years of Uttarakhand’s beingness person been marked by some nationalist parties—Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—taking turns to assertion power. However, close since the archetypal Assembly elections successful 2002, voters successful the elevation authorities person repeatedly indicated a beardown tendency for a 3rd governmental alternative. That propensity for a triangular contention gives caller entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a bully accidental to marque waves successful the upcoming polls of 2022.
In 2002, the Congress and the BJP unneurotic got conscionable implicit fractional the votes, with 48% of the electorate picking smaller parties and autarkic candidates. Five years later, 38% voters preferred parties different than the Congress and the BJP—still an unusually precocious share. In 2012, the stock declined lone marginally to 35%.
It was lone successful the 2017 elections that the voters turned intelligibly towards 1 side: the BJP got astir 47% votes, mostly riding connected the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But that origin could beryllium connected the wane arsenic Modi has mislaid immoderate of his entreaty of late. Traditional dominant-caste enactment for the BJP could weaken successful 2022, and Muslims, too, whitethorn look for caller options: the different large contender, Congress, has hardly been their apical prime successful the past.
All this is apt to propel the AAP into becoming a superior 3rd unit successful Uttarakhand politics. Arvind Kejriwal’s enactment has already declared Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, an ex-Armyman, arsenic its main ministerial candidate. This is surely a bully opening for the party, arsenic determination is inactive nary clarity astir the CM candidates of the 2 large parties.
The 70 Assembly constituencies successful Uttarakhand are dispersed crossed 3 regions of the state: Garhwal, Kumaun and Maidan. Barring a somewhat stronger beingness for the Congress successful Kumaun, the 2 nationalist parties person a enactment basal that is much oregon little evenly dispersed crossed the 3 regions.
But truthful bash different smaller parties, specified arsenic the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD). This is simply a motion that crossed the state, voters person shown a azygous tendency to look for a 3rd alternate implicit respective elections. Even successful 2017, smaller parties were capable to garner astir 20% votes crossed the 3 regions.
The AAP, therefore, has its task chopped out: pat connected this sentiment, and trigger a three-way contest. It whitethorn beryllium capable to muster enactment successful each the 3 regions and not conscionable stay concentrated successful 1 oregon 2 regions.
Even earlier the Congress’ rout successful 2017, the BJP enjoyed the vantage of greater enactment from ascendant caste groups specified arsenic Rajputs and Brahmins successful Uttarakhand. But until then, the quality successful the wide ballot stock of the 2 parties had not been much. In 2017, the BJP’s beardown showing was successful portion owed to wide enactment crossed assorted caste groups.
Moreover, ascendant caste groups veered adjacent further towards the BJP successful 2017, with 53% Rajputs and 52% Brahmins voting for the party, shows survey information from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
Given the contiguous temper of voters successful Uttarakhand, wherever the BJP authorities has been mired successful allegations of mediocre governance, 1 can’t regularisation retired the anticipation of immoderate displacement among ascendant castes distant from the enactment they chose successful 2017. This is different origin that spells anticipation for AAP, arsenic voters person already experienced Congress governments successful the past with not-so-favourable results.
One root of enactment for the AAP could travel from Muslim voters. The community, mostly seen arsenic not favouring the BJP, hasn’t shown immoderate notable inclination towards the Congress either. The CSDS surveys successful 2002 and 2007 recovered little than 30% Muslim enactment for the Congress. Most preferred non-BJP, non-Congress parties.
But it soon became wide that smaller parties did not amusement overmuch committedness of emerging arsenic alternatives. In 2012, astir Muslims (63%) voted for the Congress. This jumped to 78% successful 2017, with the monolithic polarization reflecting a beardown anti-BJP sentiment.
If AAP shows promise, it has a beardown accidental to pull Muslim voters, arsenic it has managed to bash successful Delhi. Several different states person witnessed akin shifts among Muslims towards governmental alternatives, specified arsenic the SP successful Uttar Pradesh, Trinamool Congress successful West Bengal, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal successful Bihar.
With that precise apt to present hap successful Uttarakhand, the authorities looks acceptable to witnesser a triangular contention aboriginal adjacent year.
(Sanjay Kumar is simply a prof astatine CSDS, and a governmental analyst.)
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