In a thumping sweep, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the UP Elections in a historic victory, being on road to securing 310+ seats of the total 403 seats. Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance secured 73 seats, while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) managed to secure 15 seats.
The category of others, which is a conglomerate of smaller parties, secured only seven seats.
The much-hyped elections of 2017 in UP displayed the power of the personality cult in politics. Locating the responsibility for party success, the BJP leaders credited "Modi wave" as the sole driving force for the success of the party. In conversation with the electorate in UP, the Modi wave was further established.
Talking to this scribe, a BJP supporter and voter exclaimed with joy, "BJP had to win. With a leader like Modi, who is transforming India, we need no other alternative. Modi is BJP, BJP is India!" Another BJP supporter, Aditya Ray, from Lucknow, said, "This is huge victory for the party and for the state. But we should recognize and acknowledge the role of Narendra Modi in channelizing this positive sentiment for the party in a state that has been dominated by SP and BSP alternatively for years."
Comparing Narendra Modi's victory in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and calling it a bigger challenge, Ashok Malik, a distinguished fellow at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, said on his Twitter, "Winning UP in this manner is Modi's biggest electoral achievement. This was much more of a challenge than even 2014 Lok Sabha."
A Muslim voter, Zaheer Ahmed (60), from the capital city Lucknow, after the final counting of votes, said, "I did not vote for the BJP, but now I think that the BJP is better than the SP that had made UP synonymous with lawlessness. There has been no let-up in crime under the SP. We will have five years of crime-free UP. They [BJP] will do something constructive."
Taking Twitter by storm, the election results led BJP supporters to give voice to their dream of building the Ram Mandir. Anirudh Joshi, soon after the declaration of results, tweeted, "Please build the Ram Mandir now. We would like to meet Mr. Advani and Mr. Vajpayee to make our lives successful."
However, there were the critics, who outrightly rejected the "Modi wave" and called the landslide victory by the party a result of "communal politics."
Despite the critics of Modi, the UP Elections tell a different story. The BJP's biggest policy level change in the last few months has been demonetisation, which was perceived both as an "important step" and "biggest mistake" by supporters and critics respectively.
Contrary to the predictions, demonetization had no negative impact on election polling in UP. In fact, it worked in the positive for BJP. The 2017 UP elections are a sneak peek into the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, which are again predicted to be in favour of the BJP. The SP-Congress coalition, too, was ineffective and miserably failed to deliver the desired result. For Rahul Gandhi, UP has been a big loss of face and voice. Mayawati's politics in UP is too distanced and disconnected from the masses to have an impact on the ground at the time of polls.
This election helped BJP consolidate their mass base in the largest state of the country. Also, this will lead to further social expansion outside UP in the months to come. The failure of the opposition has, in fact, set the stage in favour of BJP for the next Lok Sabha Elections in 2019.