In the third phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections on April 23, ten seats in Uttar Pradesh will go to polls. Seven out of these 10 seats were held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 general elections and were dominated by the party in the 2017 Assembly elections. Yet the sheer arithmetic of the coming together of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is set to upend the previous results.
Analysis and projection from the 2017 Assembly results, done by Newsclick’s data analytics team, shows that the Gathbandhan (Alliance) of SP and BSP is likely to win eight of these seats while BJP is likely to retain two.
The 10 seats are: Pilibhit, Bareilly, Budaun, Moradabad, Aonla, Sambhal and Rampur in the northern Rohilkhand region and Firozabad, Etah and Mainpuri in the middle Doab region. This region marks the beginning of the transition to the heart of UP, leaving behind the Green Revolution areas of Western UP, with its sugarcane economy. It has large Muslim and dalit populations, especially in the Rohilkhand region while the southern Middle Doab belt is largely dominated by other backward classes (OBCs), politically empowered by the rise of SP. Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP patriarch, hails from this region and had managed to retain his hold even in the 2014 Modi wave. The Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal, another member of the Gathbandhan, does not have any significant presence in this or subsequent polling phases in UP.
The new alliance between once bitter rivals SP and BSP bolstered its campaign in the region by organising a public rally in Mainpuri on April 19, where Mulayam Singh and Mayawati, leaders of the two parties (and both former chief ministers), appeared together for the first time in 24 years. Their unity was seen as a strong message for their respective social bases in this phase as well as subsequent phases.
Discontent May Add to Margins
Widespread farmers’ distress and the violent communal politics of both the BJP led governments at the Centre and state, coupled with anger at the destruction of small industries that dot this region, could very well lead to a depletion of vote share of BJP in these elections. Imputing a vote swing of 2.5% away from BJP and projecting the Assembly results indicates that the margins of defeat may become dramatically larger, though BJP still manages to retain Pilibhit and Bareilly.
A factor of uncertainty is introduced by the presence of Congress candidates who were not contesting in as many seats at the Assembly constituency level in 2017. In fact, the two seats that BJP is winning in this round is primarily because Congress is drawing off some votes which would have otherwise accrued to the Gatbandhan.
Projected Tally Till Now
Newsclick data analysis had projected the likely winners in the earlier two rounds also. Adding up those with the third phase, it emerges that of the 26 seats in these three phases, BJP is likely to win only eight while the Gathbandhan is likely to win 18 seats.
In the 2014 elections, BJP had won 23 of these seats while SP had won three (Budaun, Mainpuri and Firozabad). So, till the third phase, BJP has lost nearly two thirds of the seats it had won last time.
The state has a total of 80 seats, making it the biggest pool of MPs from any one state. The victory of Modi in 2014 was largely attributed to the sweep in UP, where BJP alliance had got 73 of these seats (including two for Apna Dal), leaving the opposition with just seven seats. If the cumulative tally based on projections from Assembly is anything to go by, BJP is going to suffer a major – perhaps decisive – blow in these elections in UP.
[Data analysis by Peeyush Sharma and mapping by Glenissa Pereira]