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How secular divide helped BJP in Uttar Pradesh

Congress polled more votes than winners’ margins in 8 seats
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and others celebrate the party's performance in Lok Sabha elections, at BJP office in Lucknow on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and others celebrate the party's performance in Lok Sabha elections, at BJP office in Lucknow on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
(PTI)

Anita Joshua   |   New Delhi   |   Published 26.05.19, 10:16 PM

The BJP slogan “Abki bar, teen sau par (This time, over 300)” may have remained on paper had the Congress not contested so many seats in Uttar Pradesh, hurting the mahagathbandhan in nine constituencies.

In eight seats, the Congress polled more votes than the BJP’s victory margin over the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party alliance. In another, Congress ally Jan Adhikar Party did so.

Sheer arithmetic therefore suggests that had the Congress not cut into the anti-BJP votes, the ruling party’s tally could have been pruned to 294 seats across the country and the Opposition’s bolstered by nine.

This runs contrary to what the Congress had planned, as articulated by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, party general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, before the fifth phase of polling.

“We have carefully chosen candidates so that either the Congress wins or they cut into the BJP’s votes. The Congress is not at all cutting into the votes of the gathbandhan,’’ she had told reporters.

The Congress won just one seat in Uttar Pradesh, the Gandhi family pocket borough of Rae Bareli, where too Sonia Gandhi’s victory margin was halved by a candidate the BJP had imported from her party. The Congress came second in only three seats: Amethi, Kanpur and Fatehpuri Sikri.

Among the eight seats where the Congress damaged the BSP-Samajwadi alliance’s prospects, it managed a double-digit vote share in only three: Barabanki, Dhaurahra and Sant Kabir Nagar. The highest — 15.31 per cent — came in Dhaurahra, where its candidate was the former Union minister Jitin Prasada.

Also among these eight seats was Badaun where Dharmendra Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew and a powerful speaker in the Lok Sabha, lost by 18,454 votes. Congress candidate Saleem Sherwani polled 51,947 votes — a mere 4.8 per cent of the vote share that offered little solace to his party.

The other seats where the Congress damaged the alliance were Basti, Meerut, Sultanpur and Banda. In Machhlishahr, where the BSP candidate lost by just 181 votes, the Jan Adhikar Party polled over 7,622 votes.

Clearly, the Congress’s repeat of its successful strategy for the 2017 Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, when it fielded candidates against the BSP-Samajwadi and helped the alliance, failed to withstand the Modi wave.

Even in terms of vote share, the Congress took a severe drubbing across the state, touching double digits only in 14 seats.



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