As Uttar Pradesh entered the last phase of Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the prospects of a hung assembly in the state. He alleged that SP and BSP were planning to propose a bargain to be in power if there is a hung mandate. This is a departure from his past assertions that BJP will form the next government in the state. But, a last ditch appeal for majority showing concern of a hung mandate looks uncharacteristic of the usually assured PM. It also hints of a possible nervousness setting into the top echelons of the party as the UP Assembly election results will very much impact PM Modi and the BJP’s appeal among the masses .
BJP spent months praising itself for decisions like demonetisation, attack on black money, monetary and economic reforms, army operations at the border against Pakistan and more. PM Modi hardsold his image and his party’s image to the people of UP trying to belittle the ruling SP and the Opposition parties like BSP and Congress, now SP’s ally.
In an election rally at Mau in UP, Modi said: “The Samajwadi Party and BSP have realised after the third stage of polling that they do not stand any chance of winning the election. So they have launched a new technique. (They plan) Even if their seats decrease, nobody else should win majority.” PM Modi claimed that the SP and BSP had sensed their defeat and now their game plan was of a hung verdict so that they could bargain for power.
The BJP achieved success in Assembly elections across India after being voted to power at the Centre in 2014. It won a massive 71 Lok Sabha seats out of the 80 in the state. SP was reduced to seven and BSP drew a blank. The party would like to continue that sort of form. But, if past hiccups are taken into consideration, the party lost to the grand alliance in Bihar after an overconfident and overzealous campaign.
BSP, seen as the dark horse in these polls, has steadily polled at least 20 per cent votes in UP Assembly elections since 1996. Even in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the party polled around 20 per cent votes. The BJP won 42.3 per cent and the SP won 22.2 per cent. In 2012 Assembly polls in which it conceded power to SP, the party won 26 per cent votes claiming 80 seats. Back in 1996, when the party won 19.64 per cent votes in Assembly polls, it won 67 seats.
According to 2011 Census data, Dalits constitute 20.7 per cent of the state’s population and Muslims account for 18.5 per cent. The latter have often have rallied behind the former CM Mayawati.
This year, BSP has given 99 tickets to Muslims and 87 to Scheduled Caste candidates. It also has a fairly good connect with the upper castes and the last piece of her puzzle is the non-Yadav OBC vote.
Meanwhile, the SP seems to have bounced back after its alliance with the Congress and its situation doesn’t seem as grim as before. This is a cause for concern for the BJP and PM Modi who has led the campaign without a CM face. The BJP’s UP election campaign has been based on PM Modi’s image.
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