The results of the 11 Assembly by-elections in Uttar Pradesh may have cheered up Samajwadi Party, but they have come as a setback for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which apart from failing to retain its seat — Jalapur — saw a substantial decline in its vote share vis-a-vis 2017 Assembly elections in nine of the 11 Assembly constituencies that went to polls this month.
The BSP’s vote share increased in only two Assembly segments — Manikpur and Iglas — while Samajwadi Party, which not only furthered its gain by winning three seats, went on to increase its vote share in five Assembly seats.
The declining trend in BSP vote share continues with last month’s Hamirpur Assembly bypolls where too the party vote share had declined in comparison to 2017.
The latest results have come as a jolt for the BSP as both the SP and BSP are in the race to become the main opponent of the ruling BJP in the 2022 Assembly elections. Moreover, as both the parties had formed an alliance against the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, only to fall apart after the results.
The biggest change was witnessed in Zaidpur — a Scheduled Caste-reserved seat — which the SP wrested it from the BJP. Though SP’s Gaurav Kumar defeated BJP’s Ambrish by a slender margin of 4,165 votes, the jump in the party’s vote share was significant — from 1.73 per cent in 2017 to 35.28 per cent. The BSP that had got 18.99 per cent votes in 2017, came a distant fourth with its vote share dipping to 8.21 per cent. The BJP that had won the seat in 2017 with 43.84 per cent vote share faced defeat and its vote share shrunk to 33.4 per cent.
In the high-profile Rampur, where Muslims played a decisive role, the SP retained the seat by increasing its vote share to 49.13 per cent from 47.74 per cent in 2017. BSP’s vote share here too drastically dipped to 2.14 per cent from 25.36 per cent in 2017.
While the BJP failed to break its losing streak in Rampur, it increased its vote share to 44.34 per cent from 25.84 per cent. “The BSP had also fielded a Muslim candidate. The result indicates that Muslims relied upon the SP than the BSP and Congress. Likewise, BSP’s traditional vote of Dalits also shifted to the BJP,” said an SP leader in Rampur.
In Gangoh, another seat with a decisive presence of Muslims and Dalits, the BSP’s vote share decreased to 14.37 per cent from 17.44 per, two years ago. The SP’s vote share increased to 25.55 per cent from 18.42, and Congress 23.95 per cent to 28 per cent.
The BJP, which retained the seat in a cliff hanger, however, saw a drop of 8 percentage points in its vote share — from 38.78 per cent to 30.41 per cent.
In Balha, another seat reserved for the SC, BSP’s vote share decreased to 17 per cent from 28.91 per cent. On the other hand, SP’s vote share increased from 14.75 per cent to 23.27 per cent. BJP’s vote share too decreased but the party managed to retain the seat.
In Muslim and OBC dominated seat of Ghosi, BSP’s vote share decreased to 23 per cent from 33.87 per cent.
In Muslim and Brahmin dominated seat of Jalalpur, BSP lost the seat to SP by a narrow margin of 760 votes. BSP’s vote share here too decreased to 31.25 per cent from 37.75 per cent, whereas the winner SP’s vote share increased to 31.6 per cent from 24.56 per cent.
The story remained the same in Lucknow Cantonment, where BJP retained the seat by maintaining vote share around 51 per cent almost similar to 2017, but both SP and BSP both recorded decrease its vote share. BSP’s vote share decreased from 13.98 per cent to 9.64 per cent, SP’s vote share decreased to 19.14 per cent from 33 per cent. In 2017 Assembly polls, the SP had fielded Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, but this time the party chose a political lightweight.
In Pratapgarh, where BJP’s ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) retained the seat, the BSP’s vote share decreased to 12.74 per cent from 22.82 per cent.
Notably, here Apna Dal’s vote share came down to 35.49 per cent from 44.17 per cent — a drop of nearly 9 percentage points.
The SP’s vote share decreased too — from 25.29 per cent to 15.57 per cent. The Congress and other smaller parties increased their vote share at the expense of other parties.
In Govindnagar, retained by the BJP, the vote share of BSP decreased to mere 4.52 per cent from 15.65 per cent — a drop of 10 percentage points.
The only two seats where the BSP’s vote share increased were Manikpur and Iglas. In Manikpur, won by the BJP, BSP’s vote share increased to 21.62 per cent from 17 per cent at the expense of Congress, which recorded a sharp decline in its vote share to 4.65 per cent from 21.24. Still, the BSP came third.
In Iglas (SC), BSP’s vote share increased to 33.96 per cent from 22.88 per cent of 2017. The BJP’s vote share here came down to 51.67 per cent from 55 per cent but the party still managed to retain it.
The BSP, which had not just experimented with contesting bypolls for the first time but also broke its ties with Samajwadi Party and had decided to rather contest these bypolls alone, may have to go back to drawing board to rethink its strategy.
No tie-up, Going solo works for Samajwadi Party
For the Samajwadi Party, going solo seems to have proved beneficial for the party. Besides gaining two seats, the party saw a slight increase in its vote share from 21.82 per cent in 2017 polls to 22.61.
Out of the other two additional seats won by Samajwadi Party, it wrested one — Zaidpur — from the BJP and another — Jalalpur — from the BSP.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav said in a statement that the results were an answer to the ruling BJP, which according to him had not left any stone unturned to register alleged fake cases against its leaders to demoralise them.
These results are indication of pepole’s anger against faulty anti-people policies of the BJP. It’s a mandate of people to save democracy. We do politics of development and continue to do that. People have remembered the SP for its work,” he added.
Maintaining 2017 vote share a relief for BJP
While the bypoll results have brought lessons for all the political parties gearing up for the 2022 Assembly elections, it would require special thinking by the ruling BJP, which had deputed senior leaders in each of the Assembly seats, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself had taken charge of campaigning in every Assembly constituency. The loss of one seat may have come as a disappointment to the party, but retaining the 2017 vote share in the eight seats — 35.64 per cent — may have come as a relief to the party.