Skip to main content

Why UP panchayat results aren't a guarantee Samajwadi Party will win Assembly polls

By Divesh Ranjan, Brijesh Kumar Rai, Sandeep Pandey* 

Recent Uttar Pradesh Panchayat election results indicate that Samajwadi Party supported candidates have won more number of seats than Bhartiya Janata Party supported candidates in the election of District Panchayat Members. Interestingly, BJP supported candidates have been defeated in bastions key to Hindutva politics like Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura. This implies that building a Ram temple is no longer going to fetch votes.
However, a large number of elected candidates, numbering more than 900, are independent whose alignment is as yet unclear. So, based on this Panchayat elections’ mandate we cannot accurately predict as to who is going to be the likely winner in the upcoming Assembly elections. 
However, despite a not so high profile campaign by SP in UP Panchayat elections, it has scored a big victory and that signals a change in people’s mood. Aam Aadmi Party has also registered its presence with significant number of seats in UP’s three tier Panchayat system.

Can BJP/National Democratic Alliance win 2022 assembly election in UP?

BJP is the second largest winning party in the recent Panchayat elections. Now it is trying its best to woo the independents so that it can win the Chair positions of most Zila Panchayats and Block Panchayats, a game in which BJP can outsmart any party because of its state and money power. It will certainly face a very tough competition in Assembly elections but still there is a good chance that it can win. 
The anti-incumbency factor and the government failure to manage Covid situation may severely impact its winnability chances. However, it is observed time and again that Indian voters have short lived memory. In Bihar elections last year the Bihar state government’s apathy towards returning migrant workers did not seem to have impacted the election results adversly.
Apart from pandemic crisis, there are other factors which create voters’ perception. BJP has the strongest vote bank in UP among all states. BJP is very adept, with the help of IT cell and media, at polarizing voters on communalism and nationalism just before the elections to divert attention of public from misgovernance. Finally, they had successfully crafted a TINA factor, “if not Modi then who?” which clearly failed to yield results in West Bengal elections in spite of a high decibel campaign.

Can BJP get defeated?

If it is defeated the biggest reason will be pathetic management of Covid pandemic crisis which has exposed the government’s failures and tainted the image of ruling party badly. It has shaken the faith of a large section of people in government. Unprecedented unemployment, increasing income disparity, poor law and order situation are other reasons for people’s dissent. 
Before this crisis the government also witnessed people’s anguish on Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and Farm laws. The ongoing farmers’ agitation is certain to dent BJP’s show in western UP.
In terms of caste equation, Brahmin, Vaishya and other forward castes are traditional supporters of BJP. In case of western UP, in the last Assembly elections, Jat community had mostly voted for BJP but this time they are likely to vote for Rashtriya Lok Dal largely due to farmers’ agitation. 
Vaishya community has also suffered immensely due to lockdown and various BJP government experiments like demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax. This resentment is likely to be reflected in election results. An alliance among opposition parties could play a key role in defeat of BJP just like in Tamil Nadu.

Can SP, without alliance, win the election?

SP is aspiring to win the election without any alliance. In last Assembly elections of the state, it fought in alliance with Indian National Congress. SP lost 170 seats on 2nd position whereas INC lost 49 seats on 2nd rank. Bahujan Samaj Party became the largest obstacle for the alliance. 
BSP received 22.2 % votes, SP got 21.8% votes, INC got 6.2 % votes approximately while the NDA received 39.7% mandate in total 403 constituencies. This data indicates that for SP fighting alone will reduce its votes drastically and it may just fall short of success like in Bihar and Assam.
On the basis of panchayat election results it may not be appropriate to predict a victory for SP in the Assembly elections, because it was not fought on party symbol. People exhibit different voting behavior in Parliament, Assembly and Panchayat elections. In Panchayat elections it is more based on individual persona and connection rather than the Party behind the candidate.
Therefore, SP must not be misled and should think in terms of bringing opposition parties together. However, because of its unpleasant experience with BSP and INC in past it remains to be seen whether Akhilesh Yadav is willing build bridges with these two parties. 
The only party that SP is sure of allying with is RLD which will be to the benefit of both parties. The other party that SP should consider bringing in its alliance fold is Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party led by Om Prakash Rajbhar which won four seats in last Assembly elections as a partner of NDA but is now estranged from that alliance.
Although Akhilesh Yadav has formed a Baba Saheb Vahini within his Party on the last Ambedkar Jayanti, but he would do well to explore an alliance with Azad Samaj Party of the upcoming Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad. SP should learn from the distribution of seats by Secular Progressive Alliance in Tamil Nadu which resulted in a huge victory of the alliance.

The role of BSP-AIMIM in the election

If BSP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen come together in UP, then beneficiary will be BJP like in Bihar and Assam Assembly elections where secular vote was split. This alliance will damage SP alliance. The possibility of alliance between BSP and SP seems to be negligible.

The role of Indian National Congress in the election

INC must be realistic at this time. It must accept that it has lost its voter base. INC became the reason for failure of Mahagathbandhan alliance in Bihar Assembly elections by contesting a large number of seats. It won only 19 seats out of 70 seats, that is victory over 27% of contested seats, whereas alliance partners like Rashtriya Janata Dal and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) won on more than 60% of contested seats.
It also lost the election in Assam due to not bringing a popular face and because of failure to form alliance with newly founded parties which were the voice of Assam during the anti CAA protests. In Bihar and Assam, where its ambition got the better of it, Congress lost badly. While in recent Tamil Nadu Assembly elections Congress made reasonable adjustments with its alliance partners resulting in grand victory of Secular Progressive Alliance.


Lessons to be learnt in Alliance Politics

Looking at Table 2 if SP, BSP and INC were to contest together and were able to win all seats where each of them lost by under 15% vote margin, then today this alliance would have been in power with comfortable majority. Moreover, if SP and INC were to be able to win all seats where each of them lost by under 20% vote margin, then they could form government even without BSP’s support.
The mandate in the last UP Assembly election, last Lok Sabha elections, and recent UP Panchayat elections clearly shows that Congress has lost its large voter base. In the coming elections if it fights alone then it may barely win a few seats but may harm winnability of SP. If INC compromises on its ambition and forms alliance with SP and contests only on selected seats then the alliance can emerge victorious. Support to regional parties by INC may pay off in Lok Sabha elections.
In nutshell, if SP enters into an alliance with RLD, INC, SBSP, ASP and possibly AAP to control the division of secular votes that will be caused by the BSP-AIMIM alliance, then SP led opposition alliance is likely to win.
---
*Divesh Ranjan is a political analyst, Brijesh Kumar Rai is a former faculty member of IIT Guwahati, Sandeep Pandey is vice president of Socialist Party (India) and Magsaysay award winning social activist

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.