The Modi-led BJP and its allies swept to power in 2014 on the back of an incredible victory in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP had won 71 out of 80 seats, and two more seats were won by its allies. Seats won by the BJP in UP made up about one fourth of their total tally of 282 in Lok Sabha. So, it is crucial for the BJP this time to perform well in this region.
However, a repeat performance looks not just mushkil (difficult) but namumkin (impossible), to borrow a famous phrase. There are two reasons for this: arithmetic and discontent.
The Arithmetic - Effect of Opposition Unity
In 2014, there were four major forces fighting it out in UP: BJP and allies, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Congress and its allies. The BJP got about 42 per cent vote share, which is a decisive chunk of votes. But three years later, in the 2017 assembly elections, BJP’s vote share had already started slipping, and it ended up with about 40 per cent vote share. This was big enough to fetch them as many as 312 seats in a 403-member assembly, while its allies got another 13 seats.
The flip side of this picture is that the three main opposition parties together got over 52 per cent votes in the assembly elections.
In 2019, the two main opposition parties – SP and BSP – have come together, and they have also teamed up with the Ajit Singh-led RLD, which has some base in parts of Western UP. What would the Lok Sabha results look like if the votes are pooled on the basis of this unity? The map below, developed by Newsclick analytical tools, shows the result.
The results are astonishing: SP-BSP-RLD alliance gets 50 seats while BJP and allies end up with just 30.
There have been attempts to rope in the Congress too in this alliance, although things haven’t crystallised yet. But if this happens, the picture would change further, as shown in the map below.
The grand alliance of SP-BSP-RLD-Congress would get 64 seats, while the BJP alliance may get reduced to just 16 seats.
Since the SP, BSP and RLD alliance is already sealed, and Congress too might be joining the fold, the defeat of the BJP in UP is quite likely, going by electoral arithmetic alone.
Effect of Modi Govt’s Failures
It has to be noted that elections are won and lost not on just mathematical calculations. People supported Modi in 2014, and his party again in 2017, because there was a nebulous hope that he would deliver on all his sparkling promises – jobs, higher prices to farmers, better education, effective healthcare, freedom from corruption, peaceful society. However, on all these, and several others, he has failed spectacularly. There is no reason for people to continue to support him. There is bound to be a swing away from Modi and his BJP in the coming elections.
If we factor in a swing away from BJP along with the already consolidated opposition, the results will be dramatically different from the most recent 2017 assembly election results, as shown in the maps below.
Suppose, five per cent of the voters turn away from BJP and its allies to vote for the opposition. Projections from 2017 assembly polls shows that the BJP and its allies will end up with just 14 seats while the opposition will get 66 seats. This will happen even if opposition is not fully united, and the Congress is contesting separately.
If Congress too joins this grand alliance, the BJP will be wiped out, getting just one seat while the opposition will get 79 of 80 seats.
Taking a more conservative estimate of just two per cent voters swinging away from BJP and voting for the opposition parties will also lead to a decisive defeat for BJP, as the maps below show. If SP+BSP and Congress contest separately, the SP+BSP alliance will get 56 seats while the BJP alliance will have to rest at 24 seats. On the other hand, if SP, BSP and Congress combine together, even a two per cent swing away from BJP fetches the grand alliance a massive 78 seats leaving BJP with just two.
So – the prospects of BJP in UP are dim in the coming elections – and that is going to affect their total strength in Lok Sabha very badly.