Amit Shah, a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), speaks during a news conference in Lucknow March 1, 2014. P
Amit Shah, a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), speaks during a news conference in Lucknow March 1, 2014. PReuters

The assembly by-polls may just hand over a humiliating loss to the over-confident Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, a state that it had routed in the general elections riding on the Modi wave, and serve a much-needed lesson in politics – do not mess with the nation's secular fabric.

With the BJP set to lose almost all of its 11 seats to the incompetent Samajwadi Party, the result comes as a slap in the face of the party that tried to trigger communalistic sentiments with its 'Love Jihad' campaign.

Come to think of it, the Bharatiya Janata Party, fresh from its historic win in the Lok Sabha elections, had everything going for it before the assembly by-polls, especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

  • The anti-incumbency wave against the Samajwadi Party-led government due to increasing crimes in the state
  • The opportunity to reign Dalit votes in the absence of the Bahujan Samaj Party
  • A momentum following its massive win in the state in the Lok Sabha elections.

But the party foolishly chose not to harness any of these aspects, choosing instead to over-confidently play the 'Love Jihad' card and sit back.

One of the biggest factors that BJP could have reeled in, in its favour, was the strong anti-incumbency sentiment in the state that has in the recent past witnessed some of the most gory crimes, including countless rapes, and even deadly communal clashes.

Pressure has mounted on the Akhilesh Yadav-government to resign given its incompetency in checking crimes in the state, and it looked almost as if the party was going to be booted out for deteriorating the law and order situation in the state.

But instead of tapping on this aspect and promising better governance to the weary people of UP, the BJP decided to toe a different line – communalism.

It brought in the hate-mongering MP, Yogi Adityanath, to lead its campaign in western Uttar Pradesh, in some of the most communally-sensitive areas.

It played the 'Love Jihad' card confidently, believing that it would secure Hindu votes in its favour, while not bothering to think about ground realities. The people needed assurances of security, not intolerance.

Time and again, BJP leaders made some of the most hateful, venom-spewing speeches against the Muslim minority in the state, which is yet to recover from the ghastly Saharanpur riots. 

All these attempts to polarize the people in the state obviously did not go down too well at the grassroots, and the poll trends reflect a positive sign of the people against communalism.

The second major factor that BJP had in its favour was the Dalit votes in the absence of the Bahujan Samaj Party. However, it clearly did not put its time and energy in earning trust and votes from this community, choosing only to focus on targeting the Muslim minority with its 'Love Jihad' antics.

The Modi wave also seems to have waned in the state in just four months. The party had won an unprecedented 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats under the guidance of now party President Amit Shah and riding on the Modi wave, leaving very few doubts about the assembly elections.

But the wave has clearly crashed in the state that has since given an unforgiving lesson to the party in power at the centre.

While the BJP may have lost face, it had learned an important lesson – shun communal politics, focus on development.