On December 2, 2017 most newspaepers flashed a front page story that the Bharatiya Janata Party has swept the urban local bodies' lections. Pictures of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offering sweets to one of his deputy CMs and/or the state BJP President and all of them displaying victory signs made the front pages.
Nothing could be further from the truth. BJP has actually been routed in these elections having managed to win mere 18.7% of all seats whereas the opposition, especially independent candidates, have walked away with flying colours. In fact, if Independents were a party they would have got a thumping majority in these elections.
The only category in which the BJP has done better is the Mayors' positions. Out of 16 Mayoral positions they have captured 14. But that is the end of their success story. As there is nothing unusual about this win. Big cities have been BJP strongholds for a long time now. It would have been surprising if they had not won at least these seats.
In every other category of elected positions, (other than Mayors)' the combined opposition has decimated the BJP. The details are revealing.
For the position of Corporators in 16 Municipal Corporations, BJP has won 596 seats with the opposition taking away 703. Samajwadi Party has got 202 seats whereas the BahujanSamaj Party has 147 positions.
For the post of Chairperson of Nagar PalikaParishad while BJP has managed 70 positions,the combined opposition has got 128 positions. SP has 45 and BSP 29 chairpersons of NPP.
When it comes to members for Nagar PalikaParishad BJP with merely 922 seats stands nowhere close to 3380 independents. The combined opposition has got 4338 members. SP has 477 members and BSP 262. AamAdmi Party has managed 17 seats in this category.
There are more independent Charipersons of Nagar Panchayats than belonging to any single Party. Their number is 182. Whereas the BJP has managed 100 positions, more than three times these-- 338 positions have been secured by the opposition.
SP is not very far behind BJP with 83 posts and BSP with about half that of BJP at 45. Even AAP will have 2 persons chairing the Nagar Panchayats. If we look at members of Nagar Panchayats again 3875 independents clearly represent the people's mood. BJP could manage merely 664 seats. SP with 453 seats closely followed.
Thus out of a total of 12,644 positions, non-BJP representatives hold 10,278!
If anybody can claim to have swept the elections it is the Independents who have a whopping share of 61% of all seats.
So, the question is why is media gung-ho about an imagined BJP victory? What are its compulsions? Has it been managed so that UP urban local bodies election results don't have an adverse impact on the forthcoming Gujarat elections?
Except for the Mayors' post in big cities, people have very decisively rejected the BJP as a party inspite of it spending many times more money than other parties and fielding the CM to address election meetings.
While Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati chose to keep out of campaigning leaving it to local leaders and workers, the BJP did not leave a stone unturned.
Moreover, Electronic Voting Machines were used in the polling for Mayor's post and that of Corporators whereas ballot papers were used for the rest. Why has BJP done well only in elections conducted through EVMs and fared poorly in elections through ballot papers?
There have also been complaints on large scale of missing names on electoral rolls of people who voted in Vidhan Sabha elections held earlier this year or previous local bodies' election.
Quite clearly the charisma of Narendra Modi or Yogi Adityanath failed to fetch votes contrary to what is being claimed. Common people are quite badly hurt by the decision of BJP government to implement demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax.
Businesses have suffered greatly. People have lost jobs and income levels have dropped. Whether it is the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan for which everybody has to pay extra cess or the Ujjawala scheme where the connection is free but there is no subsidy for poor on gas cylinders for cooking, people are feeling the pinch. With no demonstrable benefits people realise they were taken for a ride.
BJP rode to power on the basis of high profile media and advertisement campaign in the first place and it continues to use the tool to hoodwink people. The media has been made to fall in line. This is dangerous for democracy.
When media gives up its role of being an independent agency in democracy serving its role of holding the government accountable and starts toeing the government or worse the ruling party's line something must be done about it.
The media is part of the conspiracy to keep an unpopular anti-people party in power by swaying the public opinion. It is a great disservice to the people. All the people cannot be fooled all the time. The sheen of the government created by media is now beginning to fade. The government is finding hard to maintain its credibility, nationally and internationally.
Contrary to media stories, international standing of India has gone down under the Modi regime in spite of him having made numerous foreign forays. Relationship with bigger countries like United States, China and Pakistan has worsened, smaller neighbours like Nepal and Maldives don't trust India.
Without having taken any concrete steps to control deaths of children in Gorakhpur Medical College hospital, CM Yogi Adityanath is seen to be giving more time and importance to religious issues. Ayodhya is back in focus although it is not clear how a grand temple in Ayodhya is going to help common people overcome their suffering. Politics of symbolism is central, and when the government doesn't have anything concrete to offer to people, it relies on media blitzkrieg.