The election battle comes to head in eastern UP’s 14 seats on May 12, which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Apna Dal had swept in 2014, winning all but one seat (Azamgarh, where Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh had won). But projections from the 2017 Assembly polls with an additional swing of voters away from the BJP indicate that the tables will be turned on them by the surging Gathbandhan (alliance).
Contesting separately, the Gathbandhan parties (Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal) had together polled about 51% of the votes cast in 2017 Assembly elections, leaving BJP and its allies far behind with 37% votes. Projecting from this would give the Gathbandhan 12 of the 14 seats polling on May 12. Add a 2.5% swing away from the BJP, which is ruling the Centre as well as the state, and the rout becomes complete as the BJP tally ends up in zero.
In the six phases of polling that will get completed on May 12, a total of 67 of UP’s 80 seats would have gone to polls. The BJP had won 60 of these seats in 2014. But Newsclick projections indicate that this time round, it will have to be content with just 16 seats while the Gathbandhan will win 49 seats. Congress will remain at its previous tally of two seats.
These projections, computed by Newsclick’s data analytics team, are based on a seat by seat projection from the votes polled by all parties in the 2017 Assembly polls. The swing away from BJP (2.5%) is based on analysis of diverse factors, including farmers’ distress at low produce prices, the stray cattle menace, high unemployment, increasing marginalisation and attacks on minorities and dalits and the overall discontent with the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP state government.
It may be recalled that the two rival opposition parties, the SP and BSP had come together creating a formidable bloc of social classes and castes that the BJP has been finding difficult to challenge. The Gathbandhan, as this alliance is popularly known as, includes the RLD, too, which has presence mainly in West UP.
The BJP, too, has its alliance with small parties, mainly based on specific caste communities, like the Apna Dal, Nishad Party, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, etc. However, this alliance is cracking up though it continues in name. The widespread discontent against BJP’s rule has forced these small allies to repeatedly drift away only to be brought back by lucrative offers by the BJP. In the process, their respective social bases have become disillusioned and may well drift away.
The continuing losses of the BJP and its allies in UP means that till the sixth phase, the party has already lost 44 seats that it won last time. That could be a stunning blow to the prospects of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister again, because in the rest of the country too his party is facing losses.
(Data analysis by Peeyush Sharma)