Uttar Pradesh Phase 2: Can BJP Survive Mahagathbandhan Surge?

Of the 8 seats that vote in phase 2, Mahagathbandhan is well placed in 2, BJP has edge in 2 & close contest in 4.

6 min read
Hindi Female

Eight seats in Western Uttar Pradesh will vote in the second phase of polling on 18 April: Nagina, Amroha, Aligarh, Hathras, Mathura, Agra, Bulandshahr and Fatehpur Sikri. In 2014, BJP won all eight seats. The party wants to repeat the sweep this time, but it appears unlikely after the formation of the formidable Mahagathbandhan of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

Let’s look at the alliance arithmetic by adding the votes of the three parties in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2017 Assembly polls.

Strong Mahagathbandhan Seats

It appears that Mahagathbandhan has a sizable lead in at least two seats: Nagina and Amroha. Based on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections vote share, the Mahagathbandhan has a 16.3 percent lead in Nagina and a slender 1.3 percent lead in Amroha.

But if one goes by the 2017 Assembly elections’ vote share, Mahagathbandhan has a lead of 13.7 percent in Nagina and 17.5 percent in Amroha. Its lead in these two seats is such that even a partial vote transfer is enough to ensure a victory.


Amroha and Nagina also happen to be seats where the caste and religious arithmetic favours the Mahagathbandhan. In both these seats, Muslims and Dalits – two of the core bases of the Mahagathbandhan – form over 55 percent of the electorate. Add to that the significant presence of Jat voters, it gives the Mahagathbandhan a decisive lead in these two seats.

In Amroha, the fight is mainly between BJP’s Kanwar Singh Tanwar and Kunwar Danish Ali of the BSP. A close aide of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Danish Ali joined the BSP as a special arrangement between Gowda and BSP chief Mayawati. The Congress has fielded Sachin Chaudhary, who being a Jat like Kanwar Singh Tanwar, is likely to eat into the BJP’s votes.

Nagina is reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Caste category. Here the contest is between Yashwant Singh of BJP, BSP’s Girish Chandra and Congress’ Omwati Devi Jatav.

Strong BJP Seats

The BJP appears to have a lead in at least two seats: Agra and Bulandshahr. In Agra, the BJP polled over 15 percent more votes than all the Mahagathbandhan parties combined in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and around 6 percent more in the2017 Assembly election.

In Bulandshahr, the BJP had a huge 23 percent lead over the combined Mahagathbandhan vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and around eight percent in the 2017 Assembly elections.


In both these seats, Upper Caste, Lodh and non-Yadav OBCs are in large numbers – a favourable equation for the BJP. In Agra, the contest is between BJP’s SP Singh Baghel, Manoj Soni of the BSP and Preeta Harit of the Congress. In Bulandshahr, the contestants are sitting BJP MP Bhola Singh, Yogesh Verma of BSP and Congress’ Bansi Lal Pahadia.

Since 1991, BJP has lost Bulandshahr only once, which was in 2009 when a large number of Upper Caste and non-Yadav OBC voters gravitated towards the Congress.

However, the Mahagathbandhan isn’t a pushover. Based on the 2017 Assembly elections vote share, a complete transfer of votes between the Mahagathbandhan and a small swing in its favour could make matters difficult for the BJP.

Dalits and Muslims account for nearly 40 percent of the votes in Bulandshahr and around 30 percent in Agra. The Mahagathbandhan could be in the reckoning if they manage to consolidate these votes.

Battleground Seats

In the remaining four seats the BJP and Mahagathbandhan are engaged in a close contest and in one of these seats – Fatehpur Sikri – the Congress is also in the reckoning.

In almost all the seats in this phase, the Mahagathbandhan’s calculations are largely dependent on the consolidation of Muslim, Dalit and Jat votes. Luckily for the alliance, Jatavs, or BSP chief Mayawati’s community, form the overwhelming majority within Dalits in these areas.

Not surprisingly, six out of eight seats in this phase are being contested by the BSP.



After BJP emerged as a dominant force in UP due to the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, Aligarh became a bastion for the party. It won the seat four times in a row between 1991 and 1999. But since 1999, Aligarh has become a swing seat that hasn’t elected the same party two successive times. The Congress won the seat in 2004, BSP in 2009 and BJP again in 2014. The BJP’s lead over the combined Mahagathbandhan vote share was almost identical in both the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2017 Assembly elections – around 5-6 percent.

The Mahagathbandhan would need a complete consolidation of votes and a small swing of around 3 percent against BJP to win the seat. Dalits, Muslims and Jats together account for a little over 40 percent of the voters in the seat. The BSP has fielded a Jat candidate in the seat – Ajit Baliyan. However, the Congress has also fielded a Jat candidate in the seat – Chaudhary Birender Singh.

Baliyan is up against sitting MP Satish Kumar Gautam of the BJP. Gautam is said to be counting on a broad Hindu consolidation. He had created a hue and cry last year, demanding that Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s potrait be removed from Aligarh Muslim University.



Mathura has trended on social media almost throughout this election season, mainly because of the pictures of filmstar-turned-BJP MP Hema Malini going viral.

The electoral history of Mathura is very similar to Aligarh. The BJP won this seat throughout the 1990s but lost to the Congress in 2004. In 2009, RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary won the seat but in 2014, it was won by Hema Malini fighting on a BJP ticket.

BJP is hoping for a consolidation of Upper Caste votes and some Jat support, because of Hema Malini being married to a Jat, film star Dharmendra.

The RLD on the other hand is hoping for a consolidation of Dalit, Muslim and Jat votes with a little bit of support from Thakurs because of its candidate Kunwar Narendra Singh.

The Congress has fielded a Brahmin, Mahesh Pathak, who is likely to help the RLD by eating into the BJP’s votes.

The BJP had a 11 percent lead over the combined Mahagathbandhan vote share in 2014 but it shrunk to less than two percent in 2017.

The RLD fancies its chances of snatching the seat from the BJP.



Like Bulandshahr, Hathras is an SC reserved area that has been a BJP bastion for 28 years now. The party has lost the seat only once, in 2009. In 2014, the BJP had a 5.7 percent lead over the combined Mahagathbandhan vote share but in 2017, the alliance was seven percent ahead of the BJP. This has made this seat extremely unpredictable.

Like most of the other seats that are voting in this phase, Upper Caste voters play a key role in Hathras. Like Bulandshahr, BJP has lost the seat only when Upper Caste voters moved away from it in the 2009 elections.

The BJP has dropped sitting MP Rajesh Kumar Diwaker and has fielded Rajbir Singh who is up against veteran SP leader Ramji Lal Suman, the Mahagathbandhan candidate.

Fatehpur Sikri

The city of Sufi saint Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri, is witnessing perhaps the most fascinating contest in the second phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh. Like Saharanpur in the first phase, this is the only seat which is witnessing a genuinely three-cornered contest. And this is entirely due to Congress candidate and former film star Raj Babbar.

Babbar has been one of the more successful actor-turned-politicians in North India, having won from Agra on an SP ticket in 1999 and 2004. He contested from Fatehpur Sikri on a Congress ticket in 2009 but lost. But the same year, he defeated SP’s Dimple Yadav in Firozabad in a bypoll in 2009.

Congress has extremely limited influence in Agra and in nearby seats like Fatehpur Sikri and Firozabad, so Agra-born Babbar would have to rely almost entirely on his own popularity. What also goes in Babbar’s favour is that he belongs to the OBC Sunar community and is married to a Muslim, Nadira Babbar.

He is up against Raj Kumar Chaher of the BJP and Rajveer Singh of the BSP. A lot would depend on Babbar’s ability to consolidate anti-BJP votes in the seat. The seat reportedly also has a trend of reverse polarisation of Upper Castes against Jats. The BJP candidate is a Jat but it is not clear if the reverse polarisation, if at all it happens, benefits Babbar or BSP’s Guddu Pandit, a Brahmin.


Except for the Mahagathbandhan’s decisive lead in two seats and BJP’s advantage in two, this phase seems less clear than the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh. Fatehpur Sikri is a tough seat to predict, given Raj Babbar’s entry there as are the remaining three seats – Aligarh, Mathura and Hathras – due to the close contest between the BJP and the Mahagathbandhan.

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Topics:  Uttar Pradesh   Agra   Raj Babbar 

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