This was a closely fought triangular contest, and the likeliest outcome is a hung assembly
Now that all the phases are of the Uttar Pradesh elections are over, the time has come for predictions. Several senior journalists, in my opinion, misused their influence by calling the election before the final phase of voting.
The observations I present here are based on travels in the state, evolving trends over the past three years (particularly in west UP) and conversations with a wide range of people (in person and over the phone). Let me start by presenting five reasons why UP is most probably headed towards a hung assembly.
This was not a ‘wave’ election. In the initial phases, the media tried to project an Akhilesh Yadav wave, in the latter phases, a Narendra Modi wave. But there was no ‘wave’ on the ground. Truth is, this was a seat to seat election and individual candidates, localised caste arithmetic and issues will determine the result.
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National issues like demonetisation will have an indirect impact. While not many may have voted directly on that issue, for castes like Jats and sections of non-Jatav Dalits who may have voted the BJP in 2014 and were already drifting away from the party for various reasons, demonetisation was the final nail in the coffin, leading to them snapping their ties or loyalty for the party. One is very uncertain about Banias, though. Many Banias, who are among the most loyal BJP voters, were very upset with demonetisation. However, whether that has resulted in voting elsewhere and to what extent is unclear. The community has been very silent this time. And in many parts, they didn’t even openly campaign for the BJP.
This was a closely fought triangular contest. Small shifts in vote percentages could affect a disproportionately high number of seats.
A gradual MBC consolidation outside of the three major parties in UP is taking place. It will have a limited impact on this election, but still, in an election fought so closely, each vote and each seat matters. Examples are the Nishad party, which will command a sizeable influence over the Nishad community in Deoria and Gorakhpur districts, and, to a much lesser extent, the Mahan Dal in Kasganj and a few neighbouring districts. Their varied influence will affect the BJP’s performance to some extent in at least 4-5 districts. However, the BJP’s alliance with the SBSP (Suheldev Bharat Samaj Party) and Apna Dal will help consolidate MBC votes in favour of BJP+ in other districts. This atomisation of UP politics is expected to grow over the next few years. Marginalised communities are rejecting ‘vanguardism’ of any party and organising themselves. ()