The Hindu Editorial : March 14 :

Assembly election results: U.P. and away

The BJP’s landslide(An overwhelming electoral victory) must not be interpreted as an endorsement (Formal and explicit approval) of denominational politics

In the post-Mandal era, Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous State that is made up of diverse (Many and different) regions, has rarely witnessed a landslide, leave alone of such dimensions, in an Assembly election. As the State went to the polls, there was a clutch of arguments marshalled (Place in proper rank, Mobilized) by sundry (Mixed) political commentators on why the BJP could not repeat its huge sweep (Move across) in the 2014 Lok Sabha election — the magnitude of which had surprised the party itself as much as its rivals (Competitors) . It was pointed out, for instance, that this was a State election, the implication (Something that is inferred, Signification) being that a totally different political dynamic would be at play. Other factors such as the effect of demonetisation, the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, and the fading appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were thrown into the mix. As it turned out, none of this seemed to matter much as the results of the two elections were eerily (Inspiring a feeling of fear; strange and frightening) similar — both in terms of the geographical spread of the victory and vote percentages. The BJP managed to effectively tap into segments among the Other Backward Classes and Dalits, besides its upper-caste vote base. The popularity of Mr. Modi contributed in no small measure to the election result, but the party succeeded by also feeding into the disgruntlement (Dissatisfy) over the narrow social alliances forged by the SP and the BSP.

The SP and the BSP, following their 2014 debacle (A disastrous or embarrassing failure), chose to make two tactical (A plan for attaining a particular goal) changes. By revolting against his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, incumbent Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav presented himself and his party as agents of development. But he was unable to convince the electorate that the party had moved away from caste and, more specifically, Yadav-led patronage (The act of providing approval and support). Despite the alliance with a weak Congress party, the SP’s support remained limited to its core traditional vote. The BSP tried a newer tactic, an abstract Dalit-Muslim alliance, and ran on the hope that fielding candidates based on identity would break the coalition (Alignment, The state of being combined into one body) of forces that had supported the BJP in 2014. But the expediency (The quality of being suited to the end in view) of this strategy based on caste and community failed, partly because of perceptions that BSP leader Mayawati was ambivalent about who she would join hands with in the event of a hung ((of a jury) unable to agree on a verdict, emotionally confused or disturbed) Assembly. U.P. is a communally sensitive State and the BJP — which failed to field a single Muslim candidate — must not interpret the scale of the victory as an endorsement of majoritarianism (Governed by the majority) or an excuse to raise the political pitch on divisive (tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people) issues such as the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Going into the 2019 general election, Mr. Modi and his party will be closely monitored on how much they adhere to his promise of taking everyone along. The last thing that a “new India” needs is an escalation (Increase, Step up) of denominational politics that raises unnecessary passions and subverts the developmental agenda.