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Blog: In Uttar Pradesh, BJP Gets A Black Eye

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Blog:  In Uttar Pradesh, BJP Gets A Black Eye


Should the BJP begin to panic now on account of the panchayat election results in Uttar Pradesh? Has the Covid bug finally bitten the voters in India’s most-populous state, a state that accounts for 80 Lok Sabha seats and will vote for its next government 10 months from now? Or are opposition parties and their supporters clutching at straws? The seeming defeat of the BJP in these elections has been described by some in the party as a problem of many rebels in the fray who will return to the mothership. For those who are headlining this result, is too much being made of basically rural elections where many local issues, personalities and unorthodox techniques of ‘vote-getting’ determine the winner?

Candidates in these zila panchayat elections don’t officially get a party symbol on the ballot paper, but parties do indicate who their candidate is, support her campaign and push for her win. But, as the results below show, it is Independents and others that have come away as the big winners with 40% of the seats. That said, the table below shows the BJP trailing the Samajwadi Party (SP) quite significantly across the state by over 200 seats. If we add all the opposition parties together, that would take them to close to 50% of all the seats contested. That is a lot in a state where the BJP swept the last assembly election in 2017 with 40% of the vote and 321 of a possible 403 seats.

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(Based on data available at 2 pm on May 5)

The BJP is probably right: that with its money power, political patronage and allure to rebel candidates, it may be able to muster majorities in many zila parishads. But it is highly embarrassing and significant that in key districts which are the constituencies of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, the party has done poorly and independents may not be able to help them take power. In fact, Varanasi is the only pit stop the PM made during his West Bengal campaign to check how covid was being handled. The answer from voters seems to be “not very well”. The BJP only got 7 out of 40 seats. In Gorakhpur, Adityanath’s home constituency, no party is ahead, but to be neck and neck with SPdoesnt say much for home turf.

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Source: ABP Ganga

More importantly, in the 2017 election, the BJP swept the rural areas of Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow and Meerut – so the setback in the same rural areas is a problem. They could take heart in the fact that they lost Varanasi Zila in 2016 as well. But at that time, the SP, as the then ruling party, was accused of using the official machinery to win the Zila elections. It is unlikely that the BJP did not use its own and the state’s machinery this time, which makes the results even worse.

So is it Covid that has pushed people to vote against the BJP? Just like in Bengal, it is difficult to correlate, but even there, the votes cast for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool saw a big upswing in the last two phases as Covid cases grew. The Left-Congress votes seem to have en masse moved to the Trinamool, but it is difficult to conclude that it was just Covid that pushed the voters to punish the BJP for the centre’s Covid management and support Mamata.

And yet, for the BJP to be blasé and say that in these local elections, it’s rebels who have defeated their candidates and that they will reconcile with the party would be ignoring the reality on the ground. Reported cases running at 30,000+ for more than a week, and a collapsing infrastructure, is not helping their cause. The BJP will need to work on rebuilding people’s confidence in their ability to deliver.

That said, let’s not forget that the Modi and the BJP have the ability to do it. They did it after demonetization, sweeping Uttar Pradesh in 2017 even though everyone was predicting a fallout. At that time, they sold it as an attack on the rich. In 2019, they leveraged the Balakot surgical strike. The agenda and selling points of Hindutva, direct transfers, and a well-oiled machine isn’t going to give up that quickly. UP isn’t Bengal, it is the heart of their majority, and they will push very hard to keep it that way. And the divided opposition does them a giant favour.

(Ishwari Bajpai is Senior Advisor at NDTV.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.



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Maximum Temperature In Delhi Likely To Be 41 Degrees

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Maximum Temperature In Delhi Likely To Be 41 Degrees


Maximum Temperature In Delhi Likely To Be 41 Degrees

Delhi weather: The air quality in Delhi was recorded in the “moderate” category.

New Delhi:

The national capital recorded a minimum temperature of 21.7 degrees Celsius, five notches below the season’s average, on Sunday morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The maximum temperature is expected to settle around 41 degrees Celsius, it said.

The relative humidity was recorded 53 per cent and a partly cloudy sky has been predicted during the day.

The air quality in Delhi was recorded in the “moderate” category. The air quality index (AQI) was 165 at 8.05 am, real-time data of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

The maximum and minimum temperature on Saturday were 39.3 degrees Celsius and 23 degrees Celsius, respectively. 



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Coronavirus: India records 3,11,170 new cases, 4,077 deaths in a day

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Coronavirus: India records 3,11,170 new cases, 4,077 deaths in a day



9.36 am: India registers 3,11,170 new coronavirus cases today, pushing the country’s tally of infections since the pandemic began to 2,46,84,077. The toll rises by 4,077 to 2,70,284. The number of active cases stand at 36,18,458, while the recoveries climb to 2,07,95,335.



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Jammu and Kashmir: 21 arrested for holding pro-Palestine rallies

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Jammu and Kashmir: 21 arrested for holding pro-Palestine rallies



The police in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday arrested 21 people for expressing solidarity with Palestinians and holding protests against Israel’s military actions in Gaza, The Hindu reported.

The police called the demonstrations an attempt “to engineer and incite violence on streets” of the Valley. Inspector General Vijay Kumar told The Hindu that 20 people were booked in Srinagar and one was held in Shopian.

The crackdown came a day after protests were held in Srinagar’s Padshahi Bagh and Safa Kadal areas, where a small group burnt an Israeli flag and drew graffiti in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem. The families of those detained alleged that the police conducted midnight raids against the protestors, according to The Hindu.

Among those arrested included Kashmir-based artist Mudasir Gul, who was held for painting pro-Palestinian graffiti on a bridge in Srinagar on Friday. The artwork showed a woman wearing a scarf made of a Palestinian flag and a tear tricking from her eye, with the words: “WE ARE PALESTINE.” The graffiti was later painted over by police, according to The Kashmir Walla.

Besides Gul, a Muslim cleric, Sarjan Barkati, was was taken into preventive custody on Friday for violating Covid-19 lockdown. However, unidentified officials told The Print the preacher’s detention came after a video of him extending support to Palestine surfaced on social media.

The Hindu reported that Barkati had “addressed people during Id [Eid] prayers” and “prayed for Palestine”.

The police in a statement said they were keeping a “close watch on elements who are attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order” in Kashmir. The statement said police were “sensitive to public anguish” but wouldn’t allow its “cynical encashment” to “trigger violence, lawlessness and disorder”.

“All irresponsible social media comments that result in actual violence and breaking of law including COVID-19 protocol will attract legal action,” the police added.

Israel’s actions in Palestine

At least 139 people, including several children, have been killed in Gaza since Israeli attacks began earlier this week, the AP reported. Israeli military said the airstrikes were in retaliation for the Palestinian militant group Hamas firing rockets into Israel, but experts have pointed out that the escalation was a result of Tel Aviv’s own actions in Sheikh Jarrah.

At the heart of the conflict is an Israeli Supreme Court hearing, which was due on May 10, in a long-running legal case about whether several Palestinian families would be evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate that was given to Israeli settlers.

As the court hearing neared, Palestinians and Left-wing Israelis began holding larger demonstrations, saying more evictions could cause a domino effect throughout the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighbourhood.

Tensions escalated when Israeli security forces firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at worshipers gathered at Al-Aqsa mosque on May 7. On May 15, the country’s military demolished a high-rise building in Gaza housing the offices of Al Jazeera and the AP.

Multiple countries have condemned the violence. India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti said New Delhi was deeply concerned about the clashes and violence in Haram Al Sharif and Temple Mount and the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods. India has called on both sides to avoid changing the status-quo on the ground.





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