The SP-BSP-RLD Gathbandhan did not just fail to rein in the Narendra Modi charge in the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, it suffered a complete rout of the alliance s arithmetic.
Ostensibly, the Gathbandhan has a face-saver it reduced the BJP s tally in the state from 71 to 62. However, the vote shares of the two sides and victory margins and their comparison with 2014 show that Gathbandhan actually lost a large number of votes this election.
The Gathbandhan s rout is most prominently reflected in victory margins. If the SP and BSP are deemed to have fought the 2014 elections together, based on the number of votes garnered in each constituency, the alliance would have won 41 seats. As many as 18 of these seats would have had winning margins of more than 1 lakh votes.
In 2019, this alliance, with the added votes of RLD, won just 15 seats, of which seven were won with margins of over 1 lakh votes. Conversely, the BJP has won 62 seats, of which 44 have victory margins of over 1 lakh votes. Among these seats, 23 had a winning margin of over 2 lakh.
The situation is also reflected in the total vote shares of the two sides in UP. In 2014, when the SP, BSP and RLD fought separately, their combined vote share was 42.63 per cent. It slipped to 38.92 per cent in 2019. The BJP s vote share increased from 42.63 per cent to 49.55 per cent.
A look at key constituencies, from where top leaders like SP s Mulayam Singh Yadav fought, makes this gap even more stark. In 2014, Mulayam s nephew Tej Pratap Singh Yadav got 5.95 lakh votes as an SP candidate from Mainpuri and won the seat. If the BSP s votes (1.43 lakh) in the seat are added, his victory margin swells to over 5 lakh votes.
This time, Mulayam contested the seat and won by a margin of just over 94,000 votes. It translates to a loss of over 4 lakh votes by the Gathbandhan.
In Azamgarh, which Mulayam vacated for his son Akhilesh this year, the Gathbandhan s victory margin dropped by over 90,000 compared to 2014.
In Badaun, represented by Mulayam s nephew Dharmendra Yadav for the past two terms, the Gathbandhan got a shock with Dharmendra s defeat. He garnered fewer votes in 2019 than he got as SP candidate in 2014.The results indicate that the political affinity of various castes in Uttar Pradesh witnessed a sea change between 2014 and 2019. Both the SP and BSP have historically won elections by combining their core votes with those of non-Yadav OBCs. While Yadavs account for about 10 per cent of UP s population, Muslims make up 20 per cent, Dalits 20 per cent, upper castes 20 per cent and non-Yadav OBCs 30 per cent.
The idea behind the Gathbandhan was that with Yadavs, Dalits an Muslims making up 50 per cent and part of non-Yadav OBCs being attracted to it due to its formidable numbers, the BJP would stand little chance. However, as the results show, the Gathbandhan had only arithmetic in its favour while the public sentiment was with Narendra Modi.
The results also suggest the Gathbandhan could secure only its core votes of Yadavs, Muslims and Jatav-Dalits (13 per cent of UP s population). Non-Yadav OBCs, who had already migrated towards the BJP in 2017, did not buy into Gathbandhan s numbers. Non-Jatav Dalits too saw Modi as a better bet.
An example of this is Fatehpur Sikri. The SP-BSP combined vote share in 2014 would have given it a victory over the BJP by 40,000 votes. Yet, it lost the seat in 2019 by close to 5 lakh votes to the BJP.
In Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana, where the Gathbandhan experiment was first tested successfully in 2018, the story was no different. BJP lost Gorakhpur to Gathbandhan by over 21,000 votes in 2018. In 2019, the BJP was ahead by over 3 lakh votes. In Phulpur and Kairana, both won by Gathbandhan in 2018 bypolls, the BJP won in 2019 by 1.7 lakh and 90,000 votes, respectively.
The Gathbandhan was supposed to give BJP a close fight in many seats. However, the victory margins were less than 20,000 in only 10 constituencies. Nine of these were won by BJP.
With inputs from Lalmani Verma and Karishma Mehrotra