Indias ruling BJP ahead in key state

Indias ruling BJP ahead in key state

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The Hindu nationalist party had won or was leading in 251 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh
Final results are expected to be out in a few hours but unlikely to change much

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party won India’s most populous state with a big majority, according to the count on Thursday of a state assembly vote that could offer clues to the national mood before a 2024 general election.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won or was leading in 251 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, which it currently rules, according to the Election Commission of India.

Final results are expected to be out in a few hours but unlikely to change much. Party workers in the state staged impromptu rallies to celebrate and smeared each other in the BJP’s saffron colors.

The BJP will form a government in Uttar Pradesh with a thumping majority, said party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia. The people of the state have rejected the opposition that was building a castle in the air.

Uttar Pradesh is home to about a fifth of India’s 1.35 billion people and sends the most legislators to parliament of any state.

The victory in the northern state has come despite the state and federal government’s much-criticized handling of COVID-19, lack of jobs and anger over farm reforms that Modi canceled last year after protests.

The BJP has long predicted it would retain the state because of policies such as free staples for the poor during the pandemic, a crackdown on crime, and its popularity among the Hindu majority reinforced by the construction of a temple on the site of a razed mosque.

In elections in four smaller states over the past month, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that governs the national capital territory of Delhi won a landslide victory in Punjab, while the BJP looked set to retain control of Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand.

The AAP, whose name means common man in Hindi, emerged in 2012 out of an anti corruption movement. Party leaders said they were ready to take on Modi nationally.

It has long been assumed in Indian politics that without winning Uttar Pradesh and the neighboring state of Bihar, no party or coalition has much hope of securing a majority in parliament. The BJP has been in power in both.

For decades, Uttar Pradesh was a stronghold of the main opposition Congress party, but it has been unable to stem a slide in its popularity over recent years.

Humbly accept the people’s verdict, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru Gandhi dynasty who has overseen the party’s decline, said on Twitter.

We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India.

The win in Uttar Pradesh is a seal of approval for Hindu monk Yogi Aditya Nath, who was surprisingly chosen as chief minister for the state five year ago and is seen as a future prime ministerial candidate for the BJP.

Has women’s safety improved in UP?
Well-known actor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member, Hema Malini, has said that the safety of women improved in Uttar Pradesh after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took charge in 2017.

Yogiji has given security to women. Security was in bad shape previously, she told the Indian news channel, NDTV.

This claim also came up during election rallies and campaigns in the state, but it is not really borne out by the available data.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the total number of recorded crimes against women was 156,634 for the period from 2013 to 2016 inclusive.

If you look at the years after the BJP’s took charge from 2017 to 2020 inclusive, the figure for the total number of crimes against women goes up to 224,694 – a rise of 43%.

But the number of rape cases reported in that period did fall by 2.3% compared with the previous four years.

However, a report by the National Commission for Women (NCW) showed that of the 31,000 complaints about abuse or harassment received by them nationally in 2021, over half came from Uttar Pradesh state.

The neglected shrines of India’s temple town
The Ram temple at Ayodhya a grand new shrine that will stand on a site that was once contested between Hindus and Muslims – has been a big part of the BJP’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

The temple is being built on the site where the Babri Masjid was torn down by Hindu mobs in 1992, fulfilling a decades-long promise by the BJP.

Analysts say the upcoming temple has paid rich political dividends to the BJP.

But beyond the main temple, the city is dotted with smaller and older shrines which priests say need to be preserved.

The Careful Nitin Srivastava and Neha Sharma report.

Watch: BJP party workers celebrate Uttar Pradesh win
India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set for a comfortable win in the bellwether state of Uttar Pradesh.

Careful Hindi’s Nitin Srivastava reports from the BJP office in Lucknow, where
BJP declares victory in Goa
BJP looks set to return in Goa with wins in 14 seats and leads in six more, taking it to the halfway mark.

The party said it also had the support of three independent lawmakers and the Maharashtra Gomantak Party, a former ally, and would stake claim to form government on Thursday evening.

Reports showed BJP leader Vishwajit Rane crying with joy in his car as he left a counting centre in Valpoi.

Rane’s wife Deviya was also leading in the Poriem seat.

On whether incumbent chief minister Pramod Sawant would return to the post, Rane told news agency ANI that it was a sensitive question.

Mr Sawant won by a few hundred votes in Sanquelim. He credited the win to party workers. It was very challenging for me because I was campaigning state-wise but couldn’t reach my own constituency, he told reporters.

Meanwhile, a disgruntled Atanasio Monserrate, BJP candidate in Panaji, told reporters he won the seat despite the party working for his rival Utpal Parrikar. Utpal is the son of veteran BJP leader Manohar Parrikar, who died in 2019.

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What the Uttar Pradesh results mean for its Muslims
When Uttar Pradesh – one of India’s most polarised states went to the polls, the spotlight was on its 40 million Muslims who constitute nearly 20% of the state’s population.

Lynchings, hate speech and violent crimes against Muslims have routinely made headlines under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has openly pursued his party’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

Ahead of voting, members of the community told the BBC they felt like they had been reduced to second-class citizens.

But with election results pouring in and the verdict clearly in favour of the BJP – the party is well past the majority mark the marginalisation of Muslims seems to have had little impact on the party’s prospects.

In fact its focus on Hindu majoritarianism seems to have been the right distraction from economic woes and its welfare measures also proved effective.

Mr Adityanath had touted his hard stance on crime in the campaign but critics say the state is safer for some more than others.

And they fear that the BJP’s win would further embolden its leaders’ anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Indian TV news coverage is a gift that keeps on giving
Election season in India is a busy time for television channels as they race to cover every aspect – offering analysis, predictions and trivia along the way of the massive electoral exercise.

But sometimes, overly eager anchors resort to unusual tactics, becoming the butt of internet jokes and memes.

In a particularly hectic episode on India News that has gone viral, news anchors Pradeep Bhandari and Rajeev Sharma pace the length of the screen, predicting polls.

And then, one of them drops to the floor to do push-ups on live TV!

He says that the number of push ups he does would predict the number of seats the Congress would win in Uttar Pradesh.

He manages only three.

The Congress has fallen one seat short of his prediction.