The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies dramatically swept Uttar Pradesh in the just finished Lok Sabha polls, grabbing 64 seats out of 80, while the Gathbandhan (alliance) of Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) got only 15 seats, and the Congress was restricted to just a single seat. Analysis of detailed results by NewsClick’s data analytics team shows that the picture would have been different had the Congress aligned with the Gathbandhan – it would have won nine more seats.
Further, if Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) and Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) also would have joined the Gathbandhan, it would have defeated BJP in four other seats.
In other words, the BJP’s tally would have reduced by 12 seats had the alliance been broader, taking the Gathbandhan’s tally to 27 from the present 15.
The eight seats that the broader potential alliance with Congress would have won were Sultanpur, Badaun, Banda, Barabanki, Basti, Dhaurahra, Meerut and Sant Kabir Nagar (see chart below).
In addition, besides the arithmetic, two more seats presently lost by the Gathbandhan may have also been won by joining of Congress as the margins are low and the credibility of the broader alliance could have pulled in more voters who may have decided to stay away out of pessimism. These are Sitapur (margin 4,815) and Muzaffarnagar (margin 6,526).
The Firozabad seat, a traditional stronghold of SP, was lost by the Gathbandhan because of the presence of Shivpal Yadav, brother of SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, as a rival candidate. He had split away from SP to form the PSP, polling nearly 92,000 votes. The Gathbandhan lost this seat to BJP by nearly 28,000 votes (see chart below). Had PSP joined up with the Gathbandhan, this seat too would have been wrested from the BJP.
There are three other seats – Machhlishahr, Chandauli and Ballia – where the SBSP, a caste-based party with support in pockets of Eastern UP, garnered sufficient number of votes to cause the defeat of the Gathbandhan. This party was an ally of the BJP-led NDA, but had become disgruntled with BJP’s hegemonic attitude and decided to contest independently. There was a possibility of them joining the Gathbandhan had the leaders of SP and BSP played their cards well. But, ultimately, SBSP ended up contesting separately. In one more seat, Robertsganj, the coming together of SBSP with the Gathbandhan may have tilted the balance because the BJP’s margin of victory of 5,120 votes (after adding up the respective votes of Gathbandhan, SBSP and PSP) was not insurmountable.
Defeat of Ajit Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Dimple Yadav
Analysis also shows that in at least a few key seats, from where important opposition leaders were contesting, the BJP seems to have damaged the opponents’ chances by sponsoring a lot of independents and propping up small outfits in order to cut into the opponents’ votes. These are - Kannauj where Dimple Yadav, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife was contesting from (margin 12353; Ind & others 18510); Muzaffarnagar where Ajit Singh, RLD chief was contesting from (margin 6526; Ind & Othrs 13927) and Amethi where Rahul Gandhi was contesting from (margin 55120; Independent & Others 55461). Although there is no evidence that the independent and other candidates were actually propped up be BJP, it seems a bit of coincidence that only in these seats are so many such candidates contesting.