UP elections 2017: Why SP holds the key to a three-way political slugfest

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The political future of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh lies in the hands of the warring Samajwadi Party. Two factors will influence what happens in the assembly polls, believe political analysts. One, if the SP splits or remains a united force, two, in the case of a split, will the votes be divided downright to the middle or will Akhilesh Yadav take away most votes.

Akhilesh Yadav

The contest is a multi-corned one in Uttar Pradesh with votes in a three-way split between the SP, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Most opinion polls have projected favourable results for a united Samajwadi party and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Polls say that Dalit votes are sure for Mayawati's BS while adding that the BJP is sure to rope in the upper class and Other Backward Classes in the state. The SP enjoys the support of Yadav community but in the case of a split, it will not be able to bank on its core vote bank. "In the case of Uttar Pradesh, there is no straight contest. The BJP, the SP and the BSP have created a multi-cornered contest. I am ruling out the Congress party. What becomes of the SP is critical. In the case of a split it is evident that it will be advantage BJP," says political analyst Professor Sandeep Shastry.

As far as the voting factor is concerned there is a clear division with Dalit votes going to the BSP, the OBC and other upper caste votes to the BJP and the Yadav votes to the SP. In the case of a split in the SP, their natural voters will have to choose and SP will lose its united vote bank.

Why minorities matter

Minority voters in Uttar Pradesh had looked at the SP as a formidable force against the BJP but with a split in the former, the status quo is bound to change. "We should remember that the BJP got only eight per cent of Muslim votes in the 2014 elections as against the national percentage of 28. Nothing has changed now too. I won't be surprised if the minority votes become crucial. Surveys show that Muslims support SP but in the case of a split, BSP becomes their only option. Add to it what Mayawati had to say about BSP being the only force to stop BJP in Uttar Pradesh. In the case of a split, Muslim votes in Uttar Pradesh will be split three way. One each in support of both factions of the SP and one to the BSP," he added

The mind of a voter

Political analysts believe that the voters go with a party and not necessarily an individual. Even if it is the case of an individual it would be in terms of a leadership or leader who leads the party. Label has become king in recent times, is the belief and the same applies to Uttar Pradesh. "More than caste and community, it is the similarity in the experience that matter to a voter," says Professor Shastry. He also adds that similar perception and experience that the voters go through decide their choices. "It is not herd mentality but the way people have experienced or perceived events," he added.

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