<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hung mandates are like redoing an exam, you have to go through the entire charade of pretending to care for your text books one more time. While sometimes it can invigorate the zeal to excel, often it leads to sloth and a callous approach which could cause an even more disastrous outcome. Same is the case with our politicians, especially when 400-odd Assembly seats are in contention. Perhaps it is not a surprise then that as we move excruciatingly slowly towards the end of the UP elections, top leaders have started to warn voters about not throwing up a hung mandate.Uttar Pradesh, a state of over 20 crore citizens is truly a mini-India. From urbane Noida to the heavily rural Devipatan zone, it is a sea of humanity of differing ideologies, religions, cultures and aspirations. So in the absence of a discernible Modi wave or pro-incumbency towards Akhilesh- it is a joust for each seat in India’s dusty heartland. While the actual results will only be known on March 11, it’s widely believed that BSP has pulled above its weight thanks to weaning away Muslim votes from the SP-Congress alliance. While it can also mean a potential gain for BJP with no concentrated Muslim block voting against them, the saffron party is bearing the brunt of the Jat-unrest in western Uttar Pradesh. Hence a possibility of a classic hung assembly can’t be ruled out with none of the parties giving an indication of breaking away from the herd.Both Akhilesh and Mayawati have expressed such concerns during the campaign trail. Akhilesh has warned Muslim voters not to trust Mayawati, as the BSP supremo may again join hands with BJP if the numbers don’t add up. Mayawati on her part has completely lampooned the suggestion. But what gave credence to the hung assembly theory is unmistakably PM Modi’s speech at Mau on Monday. PTI quoted Modi as saying, “The SP and the BSP, after the third phase of polling, have realised that they have no chance of winning and so they have launched a new game, a new technique…even if we are defeated or our seats decrease, no one should get majority. I want to tell the leaders of the SP and the BSP to try whatever means they can to defeat the BJP, there is no problem with it…but do not play with the future of UP. It has suffered a lot in the past,” He further said, “You (SP, BSP) might be thinking that in case of a hung House, you will get a chance to bargain, but the people of UP have shown you in the Lok Sabha polls, by ensuring a full majority for BJP, and in these elections, they will ensure that BJP wins with a huge margin”.
ALSO READ Signs of nervousness? PM Modi speaks about fractured mandate in UP If we read between the lines of this grand statement of assertion, PM Modi is urging BJP’s core voter base to go out in droves to seal victory for the party and avoid a precarious hung assembly. For BJP, the concerns would have only intensified after Monday’s polling which marked a tepid 56% voter turnout. The party is gambling big on eastern UP to give it the much needed nitro boost which will propel them towards touching distance of majority. But low polling may scuttle such plans. In India, over the last decade or so, we have seen two distinct trends which are a marked exception from the past. One is, increasingly, governments are re-elected due to a pro-incumbency wave and secondly the electorates are giving clear mandates with often sweeping majority to the victor. UP has definitely conformed to the second trend in the last decade or so. But this time around, there is a possibility of UP slipping to a 90s redux, when hung assemblies, makeshift opportunistic alliances and frequent elections were a norm in India’s most populous state.One reason why politicians don’t like a hung assembly is that often electorates go for the jugular if a fresh election is needed, giving a resounding mandate to one of the parties. Delhi in 2005 recently and Bihar in the last decade are good examples of such a voting pattern. Hence, no political party will look to have a fresh election six months down the line, and if UP goes on to give a fractured mandate, expect parties to come together under a convenient fig-leaf. However, all these are still in the realm of speculation, and as India follows the first past the post system, a party or alliance can get a majority even with a very small difference of vote share with its nearest rival. Normally parties project an unimaginable level of confidence before the elections, with everyone seemingly assured of their victory. But with talks about a fractured mandate 10 days before completion of polls, politicians across the spectrum have betrayed their nervousness. It is up to the voters to free them from their misery.