Will Mulayam replace Maya in UP?
Predicting the outcome of elections in Uttar Pradesh hasn’t ever been as difficult as it is this time around. The four-way fight for most of the 400-odd assembly seats has left pollsters and politicians as much confused as clueless.
Why so? Can’t it be safely predicted that UP is headed for a hung House? That Mulayam Singh’s SP will be the single largest party followed by Mayawati’s BSP? Perhaps yes.
But there are arguments to the contrary. If the Jatav, Yadav and Jat electorate hasn’t split, Mayawati retained the largest base vote of 11.8 per cent as opposed to Mulayam’s 8.7 and Ajit Singh’s 1.5 per cent.
That means 78 per cent vote, including 20.4 per cent upper caste, 18.5 per cent Muslims, 31 per cent non-Yadav OBCs and 9.1 per cent no-Jatav SCs were up for grabs. Their voting preferences depended largely on local factors including the candidate’s caste, image and ability to win. At places where the fight largely was between the BSP and the BJP, the Muslims could’ve gone with Mayawati, aggrieved though they are by her administration’s distinct bias for the Dalits.
In the 2007 polls that gave it a comfortable majority, the BSP built on its base by mopping up a good chunk of Muslim, Brahmin and Rajput votes. Her support among these social groups is believed to have shifted to the SP and to some extent the Congress. The BJP too had its share of Upper Caste and non-Yadav OBCs it assiduously pursued by opposing the quota the Congress promised to the minorities out of the OBC share.
A wave if at all was seen only for the SP for whom some pollsters ventured to predict a majority. Other parties had pockets of strength but no consistent presence across the State. It would be safe to say the BJP wouldn’t do as badly as was earlier believed and the Congress’s vote share, if not the number of seats, will substantially increase to put it in the reckoning for the Lok Sabha elections.
For their part, Congress insiders say they’d be surprised if the party either got less than 60 seats or more than 80. Be that as it may, the assembly poll results in five states will have implications for the government at the Centre. The UPA desperately needs a good showing in UP and outright wins in Opposition-ruled Punjab and Uttarakhand. If that doesn’t happen, the outcome in Manipur and Goa will either mean double defeat or consolation win for the Congress.