LS polls 7th phase: What happened in these 13 seats of UP in 2014, what may happen this time
New Delhi, May 18: As the judgement day May 23 draws near, the anxiety and impatience have gripped the nation, and almost everyone is asking just one question, "Who will win the elections?". The BJP stormed to power in 2014 riding on 'Modi wave' and ended a decade long rule of the Congress-led UPA government.
What contributed most towards BJP single handedly getting a full majority was an exceedingly good performance in the Hindi-belt, especially in the Uttar Pradesh.
The voting for the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha election 2019 will be held on on May 19. A total of 59 seats spread across seven states and one Union territory will vote on Sunday. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies had managed to win 40 seats of these 59 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Of the 59 seats which are going to polls on May 19, 13 are in Uttar Pradesh, one of the most important states politically. In 2014, the BJP had won 12 of these 13 seats and its ally Apna Dal had won one seat - Mirzapur. Uttar Pradesh is seen as the most important state politically because the state sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. Winning 71 out of the 80 seats in 2014 was one of the important factors which propelled the BJP to power in 2014.
This time, the BJP is contesting in 11 of these 13 seats and its ally Anupriya Patel-led Apna Dal is contesting two seats - Mirzapur and Robertsganj. Anupriya Patel-led Apna Dal is contesting two seats - Mirzapur and Robertsganj.
High-profile seats of Varanasi and Gorakhpur are also all set to vote in the last phase. Varanasi is the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; while Gorakhpur is the citadel of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath which was wrested away from the BJP in 2018 when Yogi vacated the seat to become CM.
In the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi had won Varanasi by a margin of 3.7 lakh votes, polling 58 percent votes from the seat. Not only that, he had trounced 41 candidates to win from the seat, of which 40 lost their deposits. This time to take on Modi, SP-BSP-RLD 'Mahagadbandhan' has fielded Shalini Yadav, daughter-in-law of Shyamlal Yadav, who was elected MP from Varanasi in 1984. The Congress, on the other hand, has fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi. Rai belongs to the Bhumihar community and has a considerable following among Bhumihars and Brahmins.
Another high-profile seat is Gorakhpur from where Adityanath had won the seat five times in a row between 1998 and 2014. In 214, he had polled 54.6 percent votes and won the seat with a margin of over 3 lakh votes. However, Adityanath had to vacate the seat to become chief minister, and bypolls were held in the seat in 2018. This is when the BJP lost its citadel to SP-BSP combine. This is also when SP-BSP realized the power of their combined vote share. This time around, the BJP has fielded Brahmin Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, who according to party leaders enjoys the support of Adityanath.
The Nishad Party, which has emerged as a force to reckon with in recent months, enjoys the support of the Nishad community in Gorakhpur and in districts along the Ganga river.
It was Nishad Party leader Praveen Nishad who had contested on a Samajwadi ticket and won the Gorakhpur seat in a by-election last year. He has now joined the BJP. Though the Nishad Party is supporting the BJP, the Nishad community, by and large, is upset with the BJP which has not fulfilled its promise of installing a statue of Nishad Raj in Gorakhpur.
In Uttar Pradesh, Gazipur and Kushi Nagar seats may hold a surprise. Here SP-BSP alliance may add to one lowest victory margin seats under heat. Union minister Manoj Sinha is facing a challenge from SP-BSP alliance along with small margin victory in 2014. Sinha will meet his rival Afzal Ansari from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after 15 years. A similar challenge is emerging in Kushi Nagar seat where low victory margin and alliance has pushed BJP candidate in defensive mode. In 2014, BJP's Rajesh Pandey defeated senior Congress leader RPN Singh with less than 10 per cent vote margin.
How many will BJP win in Uttar Pradesh?
The opinion polls and surveys show that the BJP may not be able to win as many seats in Uttar Pradesh as it did last time. The shortfall could be as many as 20 seats. Almost all the major surveys that came out before the MCC came into effect predicted that the BJP may win anywhere between 45-55 seats out of the 80 seats in UP. This shortfall would hurt the saffron party.
We spoke to a veteran journalist who has been following the politics of Uttar Pradesh for over two decades, and he told OneIndia that things may not turnout to be that bad for the BJP as surveys have predicted. Significant changes have taken place in the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh in the last few weeks.
An alliance, in this case SP-BSP, would work well if there is effective vote transfer. This means that on seats where one ally is contesting, the other alliance partner must convey effectively to their voters that they are in alliance and they should vote for their ally. Will this actually happen on the ground? Will the BSP voters vote for SP where Mayawati has not fielded candidates?
"The BJP may win 60 seats in Uttar Pradesh. As per my sources, Mayawati is not willing to transfer votes to SP in seats where BSP is not contesting. Mayawati wants to emerge as a kingmaker and wants to play a major role in next government formation. She wants to have more say and wants to win more seats than SP at any cost," the veteran journalist told us.
Now, if the BSP voters refrain from voting for SP in some seats, then what options do they have? It largely has to be a choice between the BJP and the Congress. In 2014, the Dalits and OBC had voted for the BJP in good numbers which was an important reason for BJP's thumping performance, and it also explains why the BSP drew a blank. The veteran journalist said that the upper caste votes, and a combination of Dalit and OBC votes is likely to propel the BJP to 60 seats mark.