Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures during an elections rally for the seventh and last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, in Mirzapur on Friday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also present Image Credit: ANI

So what direction will a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win in state assembly elections, as predicted by the exit polls, take India to?

While all the statutory health and hygiene warnings apply to exit polls, it is still a big political moment if the BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath manages to retain Uttar Pradesh (UP). It will be the first time in 37 years that UP repeated an incumbent in office.

The other big takeaway from the polls is the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s near iron grip on the Indian polity with the mostest political flex from UP (80 parliamentary seats).

And, this comes after a disastrous handling of the second Covid-19 wave by the state. Clearly the bodies floating on the Ganges would be something the UP voters have decided to forgive.

The BJP will get critical headwind for a Modi win in the big election face off — 2024. A third term in office will cement Modi’s place in the history books and the Sangh pantheon. Modi will emerge as the uber totemic leader of the Sangh parivar. A pracharak turned PM — inspirational to every member of the RSS.

Designated successor to Modi

If the BJP wins UP, make no mistake, Yogi Adityanath would be the designated successor to Modi. While India is still not a declared Hindu Rasthra, the hegemony of the Sangh ideology, reflective in BJP win, means that for all practical purposes, the Hindu Rasthra may be conceptualised. Yogi Adityanath is likely to formalise it.

BJP’s agenda — like a common civil code and the National Register of Citizens — could be on the anvil and implemented. Amit Shah, India’s Home Minister, put it bluntly to the voters of UP that “you must vote Yogi to make sure Modi wins”.

The twinning of the UP battle with 2024 was done deliberately to ensure that the voter knew that he/she was voting for the saffron twins.

Historians will cite in a 100 years about how from 2014 the BJP was the hyper party of the era and Hindutva its dominant ideology.

If the BJP wins UP, it may imply a career-ending moment for Akhilesh Yadav, the one term CM of UP, who has tried alliances going solo but, was unable to break the impregnable citadel of the BJP.

Yadav will go down in history as an unsuccessful dynast, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who could not make his own mark. Politics is a cruel business, specially if you keep losing and no one knows that better than Rahul Gandhi, former Congress president.

Opposition’s dilemma

While his mother Sonia Gandhi, the current and the longest serving Congress president, is desperate to make Rahul do well politically, the people of India have rejected him in two general elections.

In any other democracy, it would mean a time to bid goodbye to politics but, Gandhi seems to rise with every failure and consolidate his grip on the Congress party.

The Gandhi family’s grip on the party is what frightens other boldfaced opposition leaders, evident in West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee’s desire to create an opposition front to take on the BJP.

Sharad Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo, who shares power with the Congress in Maharashtra, said it best when he compared the Congress to indolent zamindars (land owners) still talking about land that they had frittered away with their incompetence.

The G-23, an informal group of Congress leaders who want inner party democracy in the party, will certainly go public with more attacks on the Gandhi family if exit polls are correct. But, as Modi targets Gandhi as the dream opposition for him, the Gandhis don’t plan to go anywhere.

March 10 will give us a lot of answers. And, those, unlike the exit polls, will have significant political consequences. Your faithful columnist will be at your service to decode the meaning of the verdict.