New The perception that it has a “damdar aur imaandar netritva” (strong and clean, honest leadership) is getting the Bharatiya Janata Party the maximum traction on the ground in Uttar Pradesh where the Assembly elections are scheduled to take place inside two months.
Party strategists who are travelling across the state to collect feedback from the ground in order to develop a campaign strategy, told The Sunday Guardian that two perceptions have percolated to the ground transcending barriers of caste and religion, that the Yogi Adityanath government has cracked down on mafia and criminal networks in the state, and that neither has he indulged in any corrupt activities nor has there been any big instance of corruption taking place in the last five years
“We can talk about multiple factors that will push the voters to press the BJP symbol on voting day, but the two most prominent among them are the ‘damdar’ and ‘imandar’ government. Wherever we are going, people are telling us that the criminal-police nexus is not visible anymore and that criminal elements in their society have gone ‘silent’. Secondly, it is not that small level corruption has disappeared completely, but it has decreased significantly, which is working for us in a big way. On top of that, Adityanath’s image of being a totally honest politician is being acknowledged widely,” a senior party functionary who had shifted to Lucknow from Delhi a few months ago told The Sunday Guardian.
Shiwanand Dwivedi, the co-author of a book on former BJP president Amit Shah and the expansion of BJP, and who is associated with the party’s activities in the election bound state, believes that a massive pro-BJP narrative was being witnessed among the voters due to the efforts put in by the Yogi government in the last 5 years to strengthen law and order in the state and that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Adityanath are considered as honest.

According to Dwivedi, who is presently associated with a BJP allied think-tank, both the PM and the CM have an unblemished image of being honest politicians and that is among the top issues in this election. “There are issues which the Opposition is using to launch political attacks on us like the ‘angry farmers’ but when you travel on the ground, among the voters, you will see that people are saying that the BJP needs to be voted back to power again for the clean and strong administration that it has provided since 2017,” he said.
However, senior Samajwadi Party leader and party’s national secretary Abhishek Mishra said that BJP’s narrative of providing efficient government in the last 5 years was nothing but a lie.
“The truth is out there for everybody to see. Whether it is Niti Aayog data, human development index data, labour participation, employment generation, capital generation, GDP per car capita or poverty index data, in all such critical parameters Uttar Pradesh has fallen behind. As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, crime against women, including heinous crimes and rape have increased. As for the perception about the PM’s image, this is not an election to elect the PM. If he wants to come and campaign in the state he can, but the money of UP’s taxpayers should not be used for his political campaign. The BJP had contested the Chandigarh local election on the PM’s name and the result is out there. My simple point is that BJP is selling lies and people of the state will show it the mirror on the result day,” said, Mishra, who once taught at IIM, Ahmedabad before contesting the 2012 Assembly elections from Lucknow North to defeat BJP stalwart Lalji Tandon, before becomimg a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet.
The SP narrative, however, gets countered on the ground. An owner of a Noida based real estate company told The Sunday Guardian that the improved law and order situation has led to an increase in demand for residential flats in the state. “People staying in metro cities are no longer afraid to invest in projects in UP cities for investment purposes. Earlier, this number was low as instances of empty flats being occupied by criminals or property not being delivered and criminal intimidation used against the owners were rampant. This has become almost zero now,” he told The Sunday Guardian.
An IG rank officer of a VIP police range stated that the criminal gangs have either been eliminated or forced to shift to other states in view of the relentless action that the police force has taken in the last 5 years. “We were asked to ensure that criminals start fearing the police siren. In order to achieve this, police forces across the state, took steps, some of which were ‘controversial’ and unprecedented but they achieved the desired result,” he said.
The BJP functionary quoted earlier said that the party was highlighting these two achievements in a big way to the voters to remind them of the difference between the Adityanath government and the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government that preceded the current government.
“There is no doubt that Samajwadi rallies are witnessing the participation of a large number of people, but how many of those will actually vote for the SP is a matter of debate. Poor law and order conditions have always been an issue in UP and Adityanath has worked on this for the last 5 years so that it became a positive from the earlier negative. We are expecting that the vote share of the SP will rise because of factors like anti-incumbency, anger against certain BJP leaders but still it will fall at least 7-8% short of what the BJP is going to get,” the functionary said.
Interestingly, several BJP functionaries this newspaper spoke to, including a national vice president, agreed that the election in the state had become bipolar—between the BJP and the SP. They also agreed in unison that the SP is likely to see a significant increase in its vote share, but not enough to come to power.