Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati today said that Muslims were not happy with the Samajwadi Party, claiming that nobody from the community would vote for the Akhilesh Yadav’s party. She made the remarks after casting her vote at a polling booth in Lucknow in the fourth phase of the assembly election of Uttar Pradesh.
Where the feedback about Muslims is coming from
A high-ranking official of the agency that has been doing election management for the BSP told Sirf News that the media, especially television journalists, had no idea of the ground reality and was, therefore, projecting the contest in Uttar Pradesh as a bipolar fight between the BJP and the SP. He said on the condition of anonymity that Muslims were not happy with the ticket distribution by Yadav; otherwise, they would have voted en masse for the SP.
The BSP president said the people of Uttar Pradesh had rejected SP as voting for the party means “gunda raj and mafia raj”. “Muslims are not happy with Samajwadi Party. They will not vote for them. People of Uttar Pradesh have rejected SP even before voting as voting for the SP means gunda raj and mafia raj. Riots happened in the SP government. The face of SP leaders tells that they are not coming in power,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.
The source in the aforementioned agency said while the media was hardly talking about Mayawati-led BSP, the Bahujan workers had been canvassing zealously across the state.
Why Mayawati-Yadav alliance did not work out
Yadav and Mayawati had joined hands for the 2019 Lok Sabha election in the politically crucial state. Political observers say neither party gained much from the alliance as Dalits traditionally do not vote for Yadavs while the latter, an OBC group, have no love lost for the Scheduled Castes either.
Meanwhile, BSP leader SC Misra exuded confidence that his party will form government in the state with an absolute majority and Mayawati will become chief minister for the fifth time. “The BSP is headed towards an absolute majority. Taking into account the first three phases and today’s voting, you’ll find out that voting is done for BSP. Just like in 2007, BSP will form government with an absolute majority, Mayawati will become Uttar Pradesh chief minister for the fifth time,” the BSP leader said.
In the 2017 assembly election, the BSP won only 19 seats, its lowest tally since 1991, when the party bagged 12 seats. The SP had bagged 47 seats, its lowest tally since the party’s inception in 1992. The SP’s lowest score so far was 97 seats in 2007.
Meanwhile, with 59 assembly seats in nine districts voting, the battle for Uttar Pradesh concluded its 4th phase, crossing the halfway mark after today’s voting. The fiercely fought electoral contest reached the central regions of the state from the western parts today, involving the districts of Kheri, which hogged the headlines because of the Lakhimpur incident where farmers were mowed down by a speeding vehicle, and also Unnao where a BJP leader was convicted for a gang rape case in 2017. The INC has fielded the victim’s mother from the Unnao seat.
The grand old party will be tested also in its bastion of Rae Bareli where voters will decide its fate and, possibly, future in the state also. In 2017, the INC had won two seats from the district.
SP’s reliance on farmer unrest does not work hereon
The ruling BJP and its principal challenger, the Samajwadi Party, both have claimed that the voters have already given them a decisive mandate in the first 3 rounds. These claims notwithstanding, the fourth phase of voting is crucial for both parties.
While the BJP hopes that the anger of Uttar Pradesh-based farmers, who were mostly from the western end of the state, does not dent its prospects in the region, the Samajwadi Party would desperately hope to repeat its 2012 performance and forget the 2017 drubbing.
In the 2017 election, the BJP had swept the region winning 50 of the 59 seats that are voting today in Phase IV. The party that went on to rule Uttar Pradesh in the period 2017-22 was second in five of the seats.
The SP had managed victory in four seats and was runner-up in 29. The BSP and the INC won two seats each and were second in 16 and 9 seats respectively.
In 2017, the BJP won all the assembly seats in three out of the 9 districts – Kheri, Banda and Pilibhit. In the Lucknow district, it won eight out of nine, in Hardoi seven out of eight, in Unnao and Fatehpur five out of six and in Sitapur seven out of nine seats. In Rae Bareli, the saffron party could win only 2 out of 5.
But it’s not just the number of seats won by the BJP that would worry its rivals. The party’s margin of victory in these seats was equally impressive.
The ruling party won more than 25% of its seats, 26 to be exact, with a victory margin of over 30,000 votes. In 18 seats, its victory margin was between 10,000 and 30,000 votes.
In terms of percentage, the BJP won 15 seats with a margin over 20% and another 23 with a margin between 10% and 20%. The Samajwadi Party on the other hand won all its 4 seats with a victory margin of less than 10%.
Can Samajwadi Party recover lost ground?
Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, also the SP head, would take heart from his party’s performance in the region in the 2012 assembly elections when it won 39 seats and the BJP had managed victory only on four.
The SP, which lost 31 seats to the BJP in 2017, would hope that the voters of the region return back to its fold in 2022.
Akhilesh Yadav, however, would once again be wary of the BSP factor, the potential of the Mayawati-led party to play spoilsport for its prospects.
The BSP won just two seats and was runner-up in 16. But what makes its role significant is that it was at the third position in 41 assembly seats.
Out of these 41, in 25 seats the BSP candidates polled more votes than the victory margin of the winning party.
At the third position, the party polled 16,90,674 votes to play a key role in the division of ballots. This division of votes helped the BJP in 21 seats and harmed it in 4 seats. The Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, gained only 3 seats but suffered in 16 seats.
It would be interesting to see which way the BSP voters go this time. However, with most of the seats expected to witness a three-way contest, it will not be easy for the Samajwadi Party to recover the ground it lost in the 2017 assembly election.