WITH THE BJP winning over 300 seats, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which have dominated Uttar Pradesh politics for over two decades, have been battered like never before. The BSP won only 19 seats, down from 80 in 2012. This is its lowest tally since 1991, when the party won 12 seats. The SP won 47, its lowest tally since the party’s inception in 1992. The SP’s lowest score so far was 97 seats in 2007. While the SP’s vote share was 21.8 per cent, BSP’s vote share was 22.2 per cent — BSP contested all the seats while SP left about 100 seats for the Congress.
As the BJP’s unprecedented tally dwarfed the opposition, which has together been reduced to less than 75 seats, the calls for an alliance between the SP and BSP started to emerge. While Mayawati does not have enough MLAs to get herself re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha when her term ends next year, the strength of the SP, which currently has 18 members in the Rajya Sabha, is also going to get considerably reduced.
SP leader Shakir Ali, who lost his seat to BJP, said there was “polarisation of non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits in favour of the BJP and against the Yadavs and Muslims”. “This was an election of Yadav-Muslim vs others. This is how it was made to be. This is how the BJP managed to mislead the non-Yadav backward castes,” Ali said.
Supporting Mayawati’s allegation, he said there was a possibility that the EVMs were “compromised”. “SP and BSP should come together now. That is the only way ahead,” he said.
The SP went into the elections after outgoing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav wrested control of the party from the old-guard led by his father and party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav, following a long-running family feud that led to bitter face-offs among various members of the party’s first family.
Though Akhilesh was accepted as the party leader by most of the party MLAs, cadres as well as the Election Commission, Mulayam, Shivpal and a section of his loyalists did not hide their unhappiness at losing power in the party they had controlled for years.
Mulayam campaigned only for three candidates — Shivpal, Aparna Yadav and minister Parasnath Yadav — after initially opposing the party’s alliance with Congress. While Shivpal and Parasnath won, Aparna lost in Lucknow Cantonment.
However, party leaders sought to avoid blaming the family feud. “I don’t think the family feud had any impact on the polls. The alliance with the Congress was a decision taken by the party leadership, and I feel it helped us consolidate minority support,” said Ali.
SP’s Rajya Sabha MP Vishambhar Prasad Nishad said whatever happened before the elections was not an issue now. “The people of UP have given a mandate and we respect that. The leaders of all the parties will review their performance. The SP and BSP will do so also. It is for the leaders of these parties to decide if there is any need for an alliance between the two,” he said.
The SP was defeated in its strongholds too — it lost all four seats in Etah, five of six seats in Badaun, four of five seats in Firozabad district, two of three seats in Etawah, and two of three seats in Kannauj.
The party could win only one seat in Ghazipur, where it had won six of seven seats in 2012. In Jaunpur, the party’s score was reduced from six to three. In Azamgarh, it could win only five of nine seats it had won in 2012.
Of the 25 cabinet ministers, only 10 managed to retain their seats. Those who lost included Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, Arvind Singh Gope, Kamal Akhtar, Ravidas Mehrotra and Abhishek Mishra.
Shivpal, who won from Jaswant Nagar seat of Etawah district, had announced that he would form his own party after the election results. He is likely to cause further trouble for Akhilesh. Akhilesh’s stepmother, Sadhna, has also shown political ambitions and said that she wants her son, Prateek, to become an MP.
Saturday’s results came as another blow to Mayawati, almost three years after her party failed to win any seats in the Lok Sabha polls. Already shaken by the exit of several important party leaders, the BSP will have to fight an uphill battle to keep its Jatav support base intact and reach out to other groups in order to make a comeback.
On Saturday, the mood was sombre at the party office and her bungalow. She addressed a press conference, in which she demanded an inquiry into the EVMs, alleging that they were registering votes only in favour of the BJP. While most of the party leaders did not comment on the party’s rout, the voices may rise to question her as her position becomes weaker.
The BSP could win only two of the 84 seats reserved for Dalits in the state and lost most of its traditional seats. Party sources said the exit of OBC leaders hurt the party. The party failed to win even a single seat out of nine in Agra, the so-called Dalit capital where the party has always been strong and won six seats even in 2012.
In Sitapur, another Dalit-dominated district, the party won only one seat and was reduced to third position in most other seats. In Ambedkar Nagar, the party managed to win three seats, including Akbarpur, where state president Ram Achal Rajbhar was the candidate.
In fact, the party fared badly in most of the districts with a large Dalit population. It lost in Unnao, Sitapur, Sonbhadra, Hardoi, Azamgarh, Auraiya, Barabanki, Chitrakoot, Chandauli, Fatehpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, Kaushambi, Kheri, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Mirzapur and Rae Bareli. It lost all three seats in Kaushambi, a district with over 36 per cent Dalit population, suggesting that many of the Dalit votes may have gone to the BJP. Indrajeet Saroj, MLA for four successive terms, lost in Manjhanpur seat of the district.
The results suggested that the BJP was not only successful in weaning away non-Yadav OBCs from the SP and BSP, but also the non-Jatav Dalits from the BSP. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Gaya Charan Dinkar, was relegated to third position in Naraini seat of Banda district, as the BJP did a clean sweep in Bundelkhand, winning all 19 seats in the region.
Mayawati’s attempt to forge a statewide Dalit-Muslim combine by giving tickets to 100 Muslims also failed. Only five of the 100 Muslim candidates emerged successful. While gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who was inducted into the BSP as a last-minute attempt to woo the Muslims, succeeded in retaining his Mau seat, his son Abbas Ansari and MLA brother Sibgatullah lost from Ghosi and Mohammadabad respectively.