Mulayam Sowed Confusion

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No Happy Augury

Electoral Analysis: Uttar Pradesh

Mulayam Singh’s controversial statements sowed the seeds of confusion in the SP’s core votebank

From Akhilesh Tripathi in Lucknow
Perhaps the most stunning outcome of the mandate 2019 has come from Uttar Pradesh where the BJP took away 64 (62 for itself plus two seats by its ally Apna Dal) of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. Contrary to expectations, the formidable SP-BSP-RLD Gatbandhan which was being thought to be an alternative pole for the social components such as Jats, Jatavs, Muslims and Yadavs to gravitate, had to be content with merely 15 seats (five for SP and 10 for the BSP). Having grabbed three Lok Sabha seats during the last two years in byelections, Gatbandhan was considered the natural choice for those not enamoured with the BJP’s slogans.
Sowing Confusion
One could question as to what went wrong. A major reason for the Gatbandhan to fail was the dissensions and dissonance within the Samajwadi Party (SP). Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav queered the pitch for the party led by his son, Akhilesh Yadav, through a series of contentious statements which sowed the seeds of confusion among party workers. The party could win merely five seats with father and the son winning the Mainpuri and Azamgarh seats respectively. But Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav lost her Kannauj seat. Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav lost the Badayun seat mainly because of the confusing statements from the party supremo. The buzzword is that Mulayam’s statement that Modi should head the Union Government a second time led to division of core votebank. He even made a similar statement during the electioneering. Dharmendra Yadav had been elected during both 2009 and 2014.
Need to Introspect
Conflict between two of Mulayam’s brothers spoiled prospects of Akshay Yadav from Ferozabad LS constituency. He was being opposed by his own uncle Shivpal Yadav, besides the the BJP candidate. The SP even lost Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana seats despite the fact that its candidates had won these seats in by electios a year ago. All three candidates were refused renomination by the party. In fact, only these byelection victories made the three parties realize their combined strength. The SP even bungled ticket distribution this time. Several defeats are attributed to nomination of wrong and incapable candidates. Withdrawal of candidature of Puja Paul from Unnao and her replacement by Arun Shukla led to dissonance. Perhaps the SP will require immense introspection while analyzing the outcome and its defeat.
BSP better placed
In contrast to the SP’s dismal performance, the BSP benefitted from the alliance immensely. In 2014, it had drawn a zero. But 2019 election has witnessed ten of its candidates emerging victorious. The RLD proved a reliable partner for the BSP which is evident from the wide range of constituencies the party could grab. The BSP MPs were elected from Saharanpur, Nagina, Bijnore, Amroha, Ghosi, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Ambedkar Nagar, Shravasti, and Lalganj. Some amount of inner conflict damaged the BSP prospects from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Hathras, Aligarh etc.
Though Gujjar voters solidly backed the Gatbandhan, division was witnessed among Jat votes between the BJP and Gatbandhan. This resulted in RLD chief Ajeet Singh and his son Jayant Chowdhury losing the battle against the BJP from Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat respectively. The margin of defeat in both cases was extremely narrow.
Congress’ Ouster
As for the Congress, a kind of arrogance led to the party’s almost ouster from the map of Uttar Pradesh where only party supremo Sonia Gandhi could register her victory from Rae Bareli. Congress candidates were runner-up from only three constituencies. Party organization in UP is now overloaded with leaders with no cadres on the ground. Rahul Gandhi lost his Amethi seat with a margin of over 55,000 votes against Smirti Irani of the BJP. He failed to keep touch with the constituency while Smirti Irani nurtured the electorate well. Generally Muslim voters supported the SP-BSP-RLD combine. Most of the eastern UP seats were won by the BJP with extremely thin margins as the Gatbandhan could not put its act together.