BJP took a headstart from first phase of UP polls

Contrary to the perception that the BJP lost in the first phase of UP elections and later regained ground, the available data shows that the ruling BJP won handsomely in the first phase. The party’s march to victory was somewhat halted in the second and final phase where the SP gained ground.

The first phase of polls was considered tough for the BJP, mainly because of farmers’ agitation and Jat anger.

Besides, this was the first time that Jats and Muslims were voting together after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

Jayant Chaudhary was also riding high on the wave of sympathy since this was the first election after his father Ajit Singh’s demise.

The results however show that the BJP not only won 46 seats out of 58 in the first phase but also got almost 50 per cent vote share. The combined vote share of SP and RLD, has been pegged at just 31 per cent.

Clearly, a large chunk of Jats did not vote for SP and the memories of Muzaffarnagar riots were not fully wiped out. In fact, out of 24 Jat-dominated districts in the phase, BJP won 18, just one less than 2017. RLD, the party of Jats, could win just four and SP two.

The only setback for BJP was Kairana in Shamli, from where Union home minister Amit Shah had launched the campaign this time. The SP alliance swept all three seats of Shamli.

The BJP swept six districts – Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Hapur, Agra and Aligarh – in this phase. The RLD came up with an improved performance, with seven seats in the phase, up from one last time.

In the second phase, there were six districts with highest Muslim population which gave the SP-RLD alliance a fair chance to do well.

Out of nearly 2 crore voters in this phase, over 35 per cent or nearly 70 lakhs were Muslims. Five out of nine districts had more than 40 per cent minority population while Rampur was a Muslim majority district. In a perfectly bipolar contest, SP did have a larger vote share than the BJP but it did not convert into larger share of seats.

The BJP won 32 seats and SP 23 though seat-wise, this was SP’s second-best performance after seventh phase.

In 2017 too, SP had performed better in Rohilkhand, but votes had split between BSP and the SP-Congress alliance, ultimately benefiting BJP. But this time, the Muslim vote seems to have consolidated behind the SP.

In the third phase, the BJP performed well in the region called Yadavland.

Although almost 50 per cent of the 59 seats across 16 districts falling in the phase were part of the Yadav belt with a heavy concentration of the influential caste, it was the non-Yadav OBCs like Shakyas, Lodhs, Kurmis and Dalits played an equally important role in deciding the outcome.

Despite half a dozen districts with SP influence, including Etawah and Mainpuri falling in this phase, SP and RLD could win only 15 seats. BJP and Apna Dal (S) won 44 seats.

SP’s vote share went up nearly 10 per cent but the party could add only six more seats to its kitty.

Karhal was the most watched out seat in the phase from where SP president Akhilesh Yadav was in the fray and BJP had fielded Union minister S.P. Singh Baghel, a former SP loyalist. Akhilesh’s uncle, Shivpal Yadav, contested from Jaswantnagar, another bastion of the Samajwadi Party.

The BJP won all seats in four Bundelkhand districts – Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba and Hamirpur in this phase.

The fourth phase had nine districts of Avadh region, Terai and Bundelkhand and included BJP bastion Lucknow and Congress stronghold Rae Bareli.

All eyes were also on Lakhimpur Kheri to know the impact of farmers unrest and October 3 incident in which union minister’s son allegedly ran over four farmers and three of his supporters were lynched in retaliatory violence.

While BJP won all eight seats of Lakhimpur Kheri and Pilibhit, the impact of freebies like ration distributed among the poor during the pandemic showed favourable results for BJP in this phase.

The Samajwadi Party fell way behind in this phase and could win just 10 seats out of 59.

By the time of the fifth phase, the BJP and allies had already crossed the majority mark of 203.

The phase had Ayodhya and big pockets of non-Yadav OBC voters. While BJP won the Ayodhya Sadar seat, it had to taste defeat on two seats of the district.

A major shocker for the BJP was the defeat of deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya who tasted defeat in Sirathu. The SP swept Kaushambhi and BJP won in Gonda.

The SP performed reasonably well, winning 22 seats out of 61. The BJP and its alliance won 36.

The SP also did well in Pratapgarh and Sultanpur, to make up for the poor show in third and fourth phases. The sixth phase of polls included Gorakhpur, a Yogi bastion. The BJP swept all seats of Gorakhpur, Kushinagar and Deoria while SP scored victory in BSP’s traditional bastion Ambedkar Nagar.

In the last two phases, it was the consolidation of Nishad voters, the non-Yadav OBCs, towards the BJP that emerged as the big deciding factor. The BJP had allied with Nishad Party that caters to non-Yadav OBCs and has a dominant presence in the districts of Purvanchal.

Prominent candidates like Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur urban, Ajay Kumar Lallu from Tamkuhi Raj, Azad Samaj Party founder Chandrashekhar Azad from Gorakhpur Urban, Swami Prasad Maurya from Fazilnagar, Ram Govind Chaudhary from Bansdih and other ministers like Surya Pratap Sahi from Pathardeva, Satish Chandra Dwivedi from Itwa, Jai Pratap Singh from Bansi, Shree Ram Chauhan from Khajani and Jai Prakash Nishad from Rudrapur were in the fray.

Maurya lost in Fazilnagar, and Ram Govind Chaudhary in Bansdih. Basic education minister Satish Chandra Dwivedi also lost in Itwa. Ajay Kumar Lallu also trailed to the third position in Tamkuhi Raj.

In the seventh phase of polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned extensively and the BJP swept all seats of Varanasi and Sonbhadra.

The SP swept Azamgarh, the parliamentary seat of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, and Ghazipur. The SP and BJP shared equal number of seats – 27 each.

SP alliance partner, SBSP, won four seats in this phase. Its president O.P. Rajbhar won a keen contest in Zahoorabad.

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