UP election results 2017: How a divided Opposition crumbled before PM Modi

While BJP won about 40 per cent of the votes, its closest contender, the ruling SP and Mayawati-led BSP got about 22 per cent votes each. Congress, which contested in alliance with the SP, bagged only six per cent of the votes.

Riding on 'TsuNamo', Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today won with a two-third majority in the country's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, garnering about 40 per cent of the total votes polled.

Its closest contender, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have got about 22 per cent votes each. Congress, which fought the UP election in alliance with the Samajwadi Party, bagged only six per cent of the votes.

On the other hand, BJP polled about 40 per cent of votes. Even though this is two per cent lower than the 42 per cent votes BJP had got in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party has swept the Uttar Pradesh election.

However, in retrospect, it is clear that Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress could have together pipped BJP in UP. On March 9, the day exit polls were declared, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav indicated that his party was ready to join hands with BSP. He had exhorted all "secular forces" to come together to keep the "communal" BJP away from power in case there was a hung Assembly.

It goes to the credit of Akhilesh Yadav and election strategist Prashant Kishor for SP and Congress forming an alliance. However, the story today would have been different had BSP too joined the SP-Congress bandwagon. RJD supremo had even floated the idea of BSP joining the two parties but it did not materialise.

SP, BSP and Congress should have learned from the Bihar experiment where the ruling Janata Dal (U), RJD and Congress joined hands to convincingly defeat BJP in the 2015 Assembly election.

As in the case of RJD in Bihar, Yadavs and Muslims are SP's votebanks in UP. It had come back to power in 2012 with their solid backing. While the Yadavs constitute 15 per cent of the state's total votes, Muslims form 18 per cent.

2012 UP ELECTION RESULTS

In the 2012 elections, SP had registered its highest vote share of 29.15 per cent of the total votes polled, winning 224 of the total 403 seats.

SP's traditional rival BSP had polled 25.91 per cent of the total votes cast, winning 80 seats. The Congress, which had fought elections under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, won 28 seats, polling 11.63 per cent of votes.

On the other hand, BJP managed to win just 47 seats, polling only 15 per cent of total votes cast.

Hence, together SP, BSP and Congress could have given BJP a run for its money.

SP's anti-incumbency would have been offset by the presence of BSP. The Muslim votes would not have got split. They would have gone to the grand alliance in Bihar. Brahmins and a large section of Dalits would also have chosen this mahagathbandhan over BJP.

BIHAR EXPERIMENT

The template had already been cast in Bihar where the Yadavs and Muslims - RJD's votebanks - polled aggressively in favour of the mahagathbandhan. In Bihar, while Yadavs constitute 14 per cent the voters, Muslims are 17 per cent. Kurmis, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's castemen who comprise 4 per cent of the voters, too voted for the grand alliance.

The experiment was successful. The RJD and JD(U), which had fielded 101 candidates each on the total 243 constituencies, won 80 and 71 seats respectively. Congress, which fielded 41 candidates on 41 seats, won 27. Total, they won a whopping 178 of the 243 seats.

While RJD polled 18.4 per cent of the votes cast, JD(U) polled 16.8 and Congress 6.7 per cent.

On the other hand, BJP failed to match the grand alliance's combined strength. It won just 53 of the 157 seats it contested. Strike rate-wise, its performance was poorest than all the three parties of the mahagathbandhan. However, on individual level, it polled the highest percentage of votes - 24.4 per cent.

UP SCENARIO

Had SP, BSP, Congress and Ajit Singh-led RLD (winning 2 per cent of votes) come together, they could have garnered 52 per cent of votes – a whopping 12 per cent more than what BJP got. This could have translated into votes, edging out BJP as the winner.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP got the advantage of a divided Opposition house. In the absence of an Opposition unity, Modi was successful in consolidating votes in BJP's favour.

United, the Opposition could have stood, divided they fell.

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