In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won an unexpected 71 (double the expectation types) and alliance partner Apna Dal won another 2 taking NDA tally to 73 out of 80 seats. SP won 5 and Congress 2, BSP failed open its account. This performance enabled BJP to get absolute majority on its own in Lok Sabha. BJP even at the peak of Ram Temple campaign did not win >55 seats.
BJP gained 60 seats, snatching c.20 seats each from SP, BSP and Congress. BJP gained 25% vote share while Congress and BSP lost 10% and 8% respectively. SP lost only 1% of the vote.
SP and Congress could just save their family seats. 5 members of Yadav family and 2 members of Gandhi family won. SP recorded big wins in its 5 traditional seats. If you remove these five seats from the equation, SP ‘s vote share would have been equal to BSP’s vote share. BJP was leading in 328 assembly segments, SP in 42, Congress 15, Apna Dal and BSP on 9 each.
Lok Sabha seats and vote share in 2014 versus 2009 graph
Five Top Themes of 2014 Lok Sabha Elections
1. Development trumped Caste
In the past decade, the state has been ruled by SP and BSP. While India has grown considerably in the meantime, UP has been left behind. Economic and social indicators are significantly lower than the national average. Some examples:
Since 1998, SP and BSP have not participated in any BJP / Congress government at the center due to their anti-BJP / anti-Congress philosophy which has also had a bearing on the state development.
At the same time, Modi’s Gujarat model drew a lot of attention and people shed their caste preferences and voted for progress and development. Young Yadavs (21%) and Young Dalits (35%) left their traditional parties SP and BSP and voted for BJP.
2. Anti-incumbency of the Manmohan government and the incompetence of Akhilesh Government, was a gain for BJP
Manmohan Singh government’s scams 2G, Coal, CWG scams etc. etc. made the people resentful against UPA. In the state people were not very happy with the 2 years of Akhilesh government either.
Lack of experience, deteriorating Law and Order, SP’s promotion of Yadavs ruined Akhilesh image. The state was witnessing double anti-incumbency whose benefit, Mayawati was not able to gain because the people did not see in her the capability of becoming the PM of India.
3. Muzaffarnagar incident polarized Hindus
Muzaffarnagar riots resulted in massive consolidation of Hindu votes especially in western UP. The Hindus were angry with Akhilesh govt.’s appeasement of the Muslim community and the Muslims were unhappy with Akhilesh’s handling of the situation.
The Jat community, which has been Ajit Sigh’s traditional vote bank, voted for BJP (77%). BJP received the highest vote of 50 percent in western UP versus 43 percent state average.
Elsewhere in the state, BJP received the support of all sections of Hindus, Dalits and Yadavs. BJP’s vote share increased from every community, even from the Muslim community. Large sections of people from upper castes too came back to support the BJP.
4. SP and BSP’s decline an national level led to their collapse in UP
The UP public differentiated between Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections for the first time in 2 decades. Otherwise since 1996 the regional parties received huge support even in Lok Sabha polls. SP and BSP’s national decline and their impact remaining only in UP impacted their performance in 2014.
The fact that despite winning in the aggregate 54 seats in 2004 and 44 seats in the 2009, SP and BSP couldn’t play any role in national politics which impacted state’s development, also led to their decline.
5. Modi factor ruled
Modi was quite ahead in the PM candidacy race as most preferred by 36% versus 14% for Rahul Gandhi. Modi was ahead of Rahul during the entire campaign by 20%. 25% of voters who voted for BJP did so only because of Modi.
Modi’s decision to contest from Varanasi created a huge wave ultimately resulted in the entire state submerging in the saffron colour. This had a positive influence in the entire state where BJP cashed on Modi’s OBC card.
Assembly Elections 2017
Now, the big question is whether BJP will be able to repeat it’s performance? The Modi factor was not present in Bihar or Delhi. BJP doesn’t have any leader of Mulayam or Mayawati stature in UP. Whether to announce a CM candidate or not is the biggest headache for the party.
While it is disturbing to see the public law and order collapsing, the GDP growth in nominal terms in the state has grown considerably over the national average in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. But Akhilesh doesn’t command supremacy as senior ministers don’t listen to him and the law and order situation is in shambles. Out of 3 seats where by-polls happened, SP lost 2.
Mayawati has been quiet for some time. BSP did not participate in the by-polls. She taregtted BJP govt. in Lok Sabha on Rohith Vermula suicide issue and took Smriti Irani head on. Many people touted the clash as built up to the UP election. However, Smriti suffers from bahari tag and carries this risk if appointed CM candidate of BJP.
If Maya succeeds in wooing back Dalit vote bank, her position will be greatly strengthened. An alliance with Congress can happen there. If Muslim voters come out in her favor to defeat the BJP, BSP would surely win. BJP in all assembly elections after Lok Sabha has lost votes in every state in the range of 10 to 30 percent.
To sum up, the quadrangular contest makes it difficult to predict UP results. The elections will be fun and interesting. Will the UP voter surprise the analysts once again? Only time will tell…