ABP News carried out an opinion poll in alliance with Nielsen on Uttar Pradesh which is slated to be the semi finals to the grand finale Lok Sabha polls in 2019. The quadrangular election is expected to throw a hung assembly as per the poll. Mayawati is likely to fall short of simple majority by 17 seats and with the help of Congress and Others may well be able to form the government. The main contest appears to be between BSP and BJP which recorded a stupendous performance in LS polls winning 73/80 seats in alliance with Apna Dal.
The leadership factor seems to be impacting BJP in the state. One-fourth of the voters who voted for BJP said they did so because of Modi (Source: CSDS). With Modi factor absent in state polls we have seen lately (Dehi and Bihar), BJP needs to project an acceptable face as CM candidate. There is confusion in the camp as to whether it should announce a CM candidate or fight like in Bihar with Modi being the frontal face of campaign. It needs to decide fast else as elections approach, Maya could consolidate her lead and may end up getting majority on her own.
In my article in DailyO in Nov. 2015 Why everyone is out wooing Mayawati in which I listed 5 strengths of BSP, I had remarked, “Reading too much into the Lok Sabha election performance where Mayawati got zero seats is not appropriate.”
A. Highlights of UPkaMood Survey
1. Seats & Vote Share
Mayawati’s BSP is expected to emerge as the single largest party with 185 seats (+105) recording a vote share of 31% (+6%). This is 17 short of simple majority. She seems to have weaned away a section of her Upper Caste, Dalit and Muslim voters back to the fore. In all regions BSP is seen leading (Western UP, Bundelkhand and Central UP) except for Poorvanchal (Easten UP where BJP has s light lead of 1 seat).
BJP is expected to end up at 2nd slot with 120 seats (+73) recording a vote share of 24% (+9%). While this is a great jump compared to last assembly polls, this performance is significantly lower than its LS performance. Its vote share compared to Lok Sabha polls is seen dropping massively (-45%) the worst in any state elections held till date (previous worst Delhi -30%). I expected something around 30% vote share for the party. BJP is getting benefit due to the split of Muslim votes as well IMO.
SP is seen paying the price of bad law and order situation in the state and its inability to market well its development initiatives. It seats expected to drop to 80 (-144) and vote share to 23% (-6%). This is similar to BSP tally of 2012.
Congress though is seen maintaining its vote share at 11% (-1% only), its seats are expected to halve to 13 (-15). If this holds true, it will be its worst performance ever in UP. This is a big headache for Prashant Kishore (PK) even before he starts the campaign. Till now he has backed winners, now backing a sure shot failure could seriously dent his image as a champ political consultant.
Other smaller parties and independents also expected to suffer big casualties: 5 seats (-19), 11% vote share (-7%).
Seats of Various Parties
Vote Share of Various Parties
2. Leadership Ratings
Mayawati leads the pack for the most preferred CM with 31% followed closely by Akhilesh at 30% (not much difference one would argue, however I feel this is expected to widen continuously up to the polls). Both BJP and Congress prospects are being hampered as they do not have a visible face to take on these two leaders.
Rajnath Singh is preferred by 18% of population (way below the top 2) and his chances of returning to state politics is low. Varun gets 7% and Smriti gets 4%. In an aggregate the three BJP leaders get 29% of the votes almost neck to neck with Maya and Akhilesh. BJP needs to take a call fast and announce a name, build an aura around him / her and consolidate its position among voters minds.
Priyanka fares very poorly at 2%, food for thought again for PK who is believed to have advocated using her as the main campaigner in UP polls (as per press reports).
3. Issues in Elections
a. Law and Order
60% of respondents were of the opinion that law and order has deteriorated during Akhilesh rule. SP govt. has failed to rein in criminal elements in his party and crime rate of the state has worsened during his tenure.
39% respondents rate Akhilesh govt. more corrupt vs 24% which say Mayawati govt. was more corrupt. It is a general perception that whenever SP govt. comes to power, Yadav community is the only section which benefits while others are ignored.
66% respondents said that they were not aware of the development work done by Akhilesh. It means two things – either there has been no development at all or less development compared to Maya’s tenure. Or if development has taken place, then it has not been properly communicated. Reason could be that it has been dwarfed by the negative news on law and order front.
d. Unemployment, Price Rise, Poverty
The dal-roti factors are the main issues for voters. 2/3rd of the respondents listed the three factors of jobs, inflation and poverty. This is a big blow to mainstream media which has been highlighting and debating day in and out for the past few months intolerance, nationalism, patriotism, beef ban, JNU row, Bharat Mata ki Jai, Sri Sri event etc. which do not have any major impact on lives of the people. Akhilesh govt. is seen to have not done enough on these fronts.
e. Ram Temple
Bad news for BJP hardline faction wanting to rake up the Mandir issue in the polls and hoping for polarization. Almost half of the respondents (47%) said these issues would not appeal them. BJP did well in UP in LS not due to Ramlalla issue but due to the fact that people saw hope of development from good track record of Modi in Gujarat.
B. Quandary faced by BJP & Congress
Source: ABNP News
The picture above depicts the true problem of BJP & Congress – lack of local faces to take on Maya and Akhilesh.
C. Caste Wise Voting
The survey does not disclose the caste wise voting. PB based on his own research believes the following caste groups would have voted in the following manner for the various parties. Mayawati is expected to have got the majority support of Jats, Jatavs, Other Dalits and Muslims while BJP support bank consists of upper caste, Jats and other OBC.
SP support bank is Yadavs, Other OBCs and Muslims, however it seems to have lost support from the community due to poor handling of Muzaffarnagar riots. Also Muslims might not see them as capable of defeating BJP.
D. Is UP going the Kerala and Tamil Nadu way?
From 2002-2007, for majority tenure Mulayam ruled as CM. Mayawati won in 2007. SP again won in 2012. BSP is expected to win again in 2017. UP seems to be following the trend witnessed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the past three decades where the two principal parties have rule the state alternatively for every five years.
E. So who will win in 2017?
Going by the current trends Maya is likely to win the elections. BJP needs to announce a face who can take on Maya else fighting on Modi plank will meet the same fate as Bihar.