Unprecedented elections in Uttar Pradesh
By  Shimon Chadha | Updated:  Mar 06, 2019, 09:15 AM
Uttar Pradesh, with the highest number of Lok Sabha seats in the country, exceeding the second, Maharashtra, by a huge difference of 32, tends to create headlines every election. This election will be no different, especially when we consider the fact that there have been different winners almost every time since the past decade. The state has multiple regional parties, which have a very strong hold on the citizens, and are always in demand by major national parties such as the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for forming coalitions.
If we start with the incumbent government in the state and the country, the BJP, the party has not received much love from the state before 2014. No BJP government has ever completed a full term in the state, and had not won the state assembly elections since 2002, before the current government headed by Yogi Adityanath in 2017.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, despite its very public right-wing ideology, won a landslide victory, with 85% majority. Winning more rural seats than urban was an applaudable feat for Narendra Modi, having snatched a lot of Dalit votes from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati’s hold. The BSP supremo prides herself on being a Dalit leader, and is known for linking every issue to casteism, and the struggle Dalits go through, thus winning most Dalit votes in the state, the largest SC votebank in the country. Majority of the Yadav community, one of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups, had also voted for the BJP, instead of their usual supporters, Samajwadi Party (SP).
The Bahujan Samaj Party, headed by Dalit leader Mayawati, has been a strong force in the state since a very long time. It won an absolute majority in 2007, unprecedented in the state since the past few elections. Apart from the SC and OBC vote bank, it somehow managed to attract the Brahmins and the Vaishyas, the upper Hindu classes, who appear to detest the Dalits even after years of growth and social education in the society.
In the 2012 Assembly elections though, what the BSP considered its biggest vote bank, reduced significantly, to finally decrease drastically in the 2014 general elections and 2017 assembly elections. One reason for this might be the less number of educated, urban, working class and women voting for the party.
Moving on to the Samajwadi Party, headed by Akhilesh Yadav, which won the assembly elections of 2012, it was noticed that there was a considerable decrease in the number of Yadavs and Muslims voting for them.
The Congress, which has won the Assembly elections maximum times in the state, has fared poorly recently. After the 2009 general elections, which was its last victory in the state, the party lost its vote bank of the privileged influential castes.
In the upcoming elections, various factors are at play.
The sudden attack of demonetisation, the introduction of the GST bill, and the Ram Mandir issue, coupled with the recent uproar of anti-Pakistan feelings converted to anti-Muslim, might not be a strong formula for the incumbent party to return.
The SP-BSP alliance is a factor which national parties like Congress and BJP must not take lightly. Having come together after 25 years, the alliance might just work magic, joining their cumulatively humongous vote bank.
The final untested factor is the P-factor, the entry of Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s sister, Priyanka Gandhi into the political arena. Though the charismatic woman has not given a single speech yet, or announced whether she might be contesting elections or just managing the UP Congress, her presence itself might just improve the chances of the oldest party in the country to win drastically.
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