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Why BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Disaster May Become Worse in Last 3 Phases

41 seats are yet to vote in UP. In 2014 Mahagathbandhan’s combined vote share was more than BJP in 24 of these seats

Updated
Elections
3 min read
(Mayawati (L), Akhilesh Yadav (R). Image used for representational purposes.
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Nearly half of Uttar Pradesh – 39 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats to be precise – has already voted. In 2014, the BJP won 35 of these seats and Samajwadi Party won four. Both the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress failed to win even one of these 39 constituencies.

According to conservative estimates, this time the BJP could be down by around 15 seats in the first four phases alone. However, many other analysts say that the party could lose over 20 of the 35 seats that it had won in the first four phases.

The bad news for the National Democratic Alliance is that the subsequent phases might actually be worse for it. But first, a counter-argument.

The counter-argument is that the areas that voted in the last three phases of polling are largely in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Awadh, where the Muslim-Yadav-Jatav-Jat social combination of the Mahagathbandhan isn’t as dominant. It is also argued that the Congress has a greater potential to spoil the Mahagathbandhan’s chances in Awadh.

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Then, of course, there is the belief that Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting from Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh, in the last phase of polling, could have a ripple effect in the entire region.

There might be some element of truth to all the three arguments. But if one purely looks at the numbers, the BJP is far more vulnerable in these remaining seats than it was in the areas that have already voted.

If one compares the NDA’s vote share from 2014 to the combined vote share of the Mahagathbandhan, it turns out that the NDA had a healthy lead in the seats that voted in the first and second phases of polling.

However, the combined Mahagathbandhan vote share in 2014 was way ahead of the NDA in the seats that voted in the third phase, which largely comprised Muslim and Yadav dominated seats.

The fifth and sixth phases are in seats where the Mahagathbandhan has a clear advantage over the NDA.

The 12 percent edge for the alliance in the sixth phase – in seats like Azamgarh, Basti, Lalganj, Phulpur and Sant Kabir Nagar – would particularly be difficult for the BJP to overcome.

In terms of seats, in 2014, BJP was ahead of the Mahagathbandhan’s combined vote share in 21 out of 39 seats that have voted so far. But in the remaining 41 seats, the Mahagathbandhan was ahead in 24, BJP in 15 and Congress in 2 seats.

The Mahagathbandhan’s combined vote share was more than that of the BJP in 18 out of 39 seats that voted in the first four phases of polling. But by most accounts, the alliance has ended up doing better than that, mainly due to a near complete consolidation of Muslim, Yadav and Jatav voters as well as the shift of a sizable chunk of Jat and Gujjar voters from the BJP to the alliance.

However, in the remaining 41 seats, the Gathbandhan doesn’t even need a major shift of votes from the BJP. A mere consolidation of its own votes would give the alliance 24 out of 41 seats.

Had the Mahagathbandhan contested as an alliance in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, this is what the map of the state would have looked like.

The map clearly shows that the coming together of the Mahagathbandhan has made the BJP vulnerable across the state, except in parts of Bundelkhand, pockets near Varanasi and Gorakhpur and upper caste-dominated urban centres like Agra, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar. But even in these areas a small swing can prove harmful for the BJP as we saw in the bypolls in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana in 2018.

The big picture is that the BJP’s fortunes in Uttar Pradesh aren’t likely to improve in the remaining phases of polling. The BJP is all set to lose a major chunk – perhaps over half the seats it won in 2014. The quantum of loss would be such that the party may not be able to make up for it from any other state in the country.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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