The Gathbandhan (grand alliance) in Uttar Pradesh has not been able to live up to the hype it had created. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the alliance was expected to give a neck to neck to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 80 parliamentary seats in India’s most politically significant state, but the results have come as a shocker for the constituent parties as well as many political experts.
In the grand alliance, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) had resolved to stand together to stop the “Modi wave”, but the Right-wing party had already made inroads. Many experts believe that the caste equations have played a significant role in this election.
What Happened in Eastern Uttar Pradesh
NewsClick team had travelled to Eastern Uttar Pradesh to gauge the mood of the people, and to understand their problems. The polarisation was discernible while talking to the people. The youth wanted to vote for BJP to assert control over the Muslims. A few of them also expressed their desire to have a Hindu Rashtra (a Hindu nation), where Muslims and minorities can be evicted gradually. The Balakot air strike had had its share of impact on the locals, who believed that Modi is the only leader who can show Pakistan where its stands.
Many businessmen from Sant Kabir Nagar told NewsClick that the losses in business and unemployement don't matter much as long as they are able to show their place to the Muslims. This polarisation can be seen as one of the main factors behind Narendra Modi's and BJP's rise to power.
In Gorakhpur, most of the people had said that they only wanted Yogi Adityanath. The selection of Ravi Krishan was in the name of Yogi, they believed. "Recently, in the bypolls, when Praveen Nishad of the Samajwadi Party won from the region, the Hindus felt belittled. The Muslims were given a chance to exercise their power on us. Modi will never let that happen," said a local, wishing anonymity.
The consolidation of Hindu votes in the name of religion remains the main factor behind Modi’s win. Sources told NewsClick that after the poll result was announced, Hindus were seen bursting firecrackers in Deoria and Gorakhpur district in the Muslim localities.
Meanwhile, Yadavs and Jatavs – who formed the core support base of the SP and BSP – have also voted for the BJP. It had won 73 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and has managed to retain its grip on the Jat-dominated western as well as central and Avadh regions in the state. The grand alliance, however, managed to wrest only a few seats from the BJP in the eastern region of the state.
Reacting to this unexpected result, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, spokesperson, Samajwadi Party, told NewsClick, "The results, for us, are quite surprising. We never expected such results. We will certainly analyse the outcome and would try to find out the reasons. After self-introspection, we would surely take corrective measures. But the fact of the matter is that a lot of hard work was done by all the top leadership of the gathbandhan. Genuine and grassroot issues were raised, but still, we failed to get traction from the voters. Certainly, our strategy will undergo several changes now. We are hopeful that we will improve our tally and performance in the future."
Decrease in BJP’s Vote Share
Meanwhile, in Gorakhpur and Basti regions, BJP has swept all the nine seats, and has recorded a victory with a huge margin. Bhojpuri actor-turned-politician Ravi Kishan won the Gorakhpur seat with a margin of 3 lakh votes. BJP candidates Pankaj Choudhary from Maharajganj and Vijay Dubey from Kushinagar too won the respective seats. However, out of nine seats, BJP’s vote share has decreased in six Lok Sabha constituencies – Bansgaon, Basti, Deoria, Gorakhpur, Salempur and Sant Kabir Nagar – in comparison with its performance in 2014. Take a look:
||Candidate in 2014
||Margin in 2014
||Candidate in 2019
||Margin in 2019
||Ramapati Ram Tripathi
|Sant Kabir Nagar
||Praveen Kumar Nishad
However, in Maharajganj, BJP’s Pankaj Chaudhary won this time with a margin of 3,40,424 votes – increased from 2,40,458 votes in 2014.
Kushinagar was a high-profile seat as former Union Minister RPN Singh was in the fray, but he lost the election with Vijay Dubey of BJP. Dubey won the election with a margin of 3,37,560 votes. In 2014, BJP's Guddu Pandey had won with much lesser margin of 85,540 votes.
Senior leader Jagdambika Pal of BJP not only won for the third time from Domariyaganj seat, but also retained the seat with increased margin of 1,05,321 votes. In 2014, it was 1,03,588.
Abhay Kumar Dubey, a senior political analyst, told NewsClick, "Congress should have also been a part of the alliance. The vote share of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh is 51% to 52% at every seat, and the alliance has got 41% to 43% vote share. If Congress would have been in, the result could have been different. And I am sure that BJP would have lost many seats. Because of BSP Chief Mayawati, they did not bring Congress in, as she was afraid of losing the Dalit votes in the Assembly elections."
"Nishad Party had some misunderstanding, but Akhilesh Yadav did not resolve it, and let them go with the BJP. Similarly, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar was in open rebellion against BJP, and in that case too, alliance could not take any benefits," Dubey added.