The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) sends 80 Members of Parliament (MP) to Lok Sabha (largest by any state, 15% of total Parliament strength) and is very crucial for govt. formation at the center.  Uttarakhand was carved out of the state in 2000 and its seats reduced to 80 from 85.The state has produced majority of the Prime Ministers of India. 8 out of 13 PMs of India were MPs from UP namely Jawahar Lal Nehru (Phulpur), Lal Bahadur Shastri (Allahabad), Indira Gandhi (Rae Bareli), Charan Singh (Baghpat), Rajiv Gandhi (Amethi), V.P. Singh (Fatehpur), Chandrasekhar (Ballia) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Lucknow). No wonders Narendra Modi (BJP’s PM candidate) also is contesting from UP (Varanasi).

UP used to be a Congress bastion till late mid 1980s with Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi all MPs from the state. It was hijacked by Mandal movement in early 1990s by Janata Dal. The Ram Mandir movement made it a BJP stronghold in 1990s which propelled it to form govt at the center in 1998. Decline of Congress and in early 2000s even BJP in the state, led to emergence of two key state parties – Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) – built around a caste based cadre, BSP (Dalits) and SP (Muslims / Yadavs / OBCs). BSP and SP (once allies) have been forming state govts. independently in the state for the past decade. Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is another regional party which has a strong presence in western UP (among Jats) as his father & former PM was from this region. In a nutshell, UP a Congress bastion (51 seats in 1980, 83 seats in 1984), became a BJP stronghold (50+ in 1991/96/98) and is now dominated by SP and BSP.

BJP’s vote share has shrunk consistently since 1998 plummeting to 17.5% in 2009. However, because of the Ram Mandir movement, party has presence across all seats, while Congress is strong in Western UP due to Ajit Singh’s RLD and some parts of eastern / central UP (Amethi / Raebareli and adjoining areas). This is why perhaps despite similar vote share, Congress won 21 seats while BJP 10 in 2009.

Parties

Particulars

1991

1996

1998

1999

2004

2009

Congress+

Seats

5

5

0

10

9

21

 

Vote Share

18.0%

8.1%

6.0%

14.7%

12.0%

18.3%

BJP

Seats

51

52

57

29

10

10

 

Vote Share

32.8%

33.4%

36.5%

27.6%

22.2%

17.5%

BSP

Seats

1

6

4

14

19

20

 

Vote Share

8.7%

20.6%

20.9%

22.1%

24.7%

27.4%

SP

Seats

22

16

20

26

35

23

 

Vote Share

21.3%

20.8%

28.7%

24.1%

26.7%

23.3%

 

There are 13.5 crore electorate in UP, of whom OBCs constitute 34.7% (Kurmis 7.5%, Jats 3.6%, Lodhs 5%, Teli / Sahu 4% & Rest others), 9.6% Yadavs, 20.1% Dalits, 18% Muslims, 7.6% Brahmins and Thakurs and 10.1% others.

BJP got 53% votes of Brahmins / Thakurs, 5% SC / ST, 6% Muslims, 6% Yadavs, 23% Kurmis, 17% Lodhs and 29% Other OBCs votes in 2009. (Source: CSDS-Lokniti preliminary results of the National Election Studies 2009)

UP politics has become very caste based after Ram Mandir mudda evaporated from the scene. In 2009, 73% of Yadavs voted for SP. Contrary to popular belief, Muslim votes were split evenly (SP 30%, Cong 25%, BSP 18%). Muslims tactically voted for the candidate best suited to defeat BJP. Upper caste votes were split between BJP and Congress. SP garnered 32% of Lodh votes courtesy Kalyan Singh (who supported SP in those elections). This hurt BJP whose vote share from the community shrank 24%. However, this factor also reduced SP’s Muslim vote share (-17%) from 2007 assembly elections as Kalyan Singh was the CM when Babri Masjid was demolished. BSP continued to enjoy majority of Dalits support. So we see that Hindus votes get split between BJP / Congress (Upper caste), SP (Yadavs / Lodhs) and BSP (Dalits). On the other hand though Muslim votes split, they are believed to go en bloc to one candidate in any constituency.

Modi’s dreams of becoming PM will be made or shattered by Hindus of UP. If Hindus vote for BJP irrespective of caste, then its overall vote share will increase and so will the seats. Following indicators point to the same:

(i) A section of upper caste votes could get transferred from Congress to BJP. Modi fighting from Varanasi (holy town) has conjured up a Hindu nationalist wave and  is one of the reasons.

(ii) Kalyan Singh is back in BJP and could help get back some Lodh votes. Plus Modi’s OBC status could wean away some Other OBCs votes from other parties.

(iii) Alliance with Apna Dal could get BJP majority of Kurmis votes. Jats are upset with their leader Ajit Singh due to his not coming to see them during Muzaffarnagar riots and would want to teach him a lesson.

BJP is also banking on Dalits who voted for it in state assembly elections recently (BJP won 67 / 71 reserved seats in 4 states in Dec. 2013). It is trying to lure them away from Mayawati, it is unlikely they might swing in large nos. In the 4 states BSP is not strong hence they voted for BJP. While Yadavs are still expected to go with their messiah Mulayam, Muslims are believed to be voting tactically.

If BJP gets additional 20% upper caste votes, 75% of Kurmis, Lodhs, Teli & Jat votes & 50% of other OBC votes, it would get 33% of votes similar to 1991 / 1996 and could actually end up getting 50 seats. This would increase BJP’s chances of getting closer to majority and Modi becoming PM. 

 

2009

 

2014E

 

 

Vote Share (Approx)

% of Population

W. Avg.

 

Vote Share (Approx)

% of Population

W. Avg.

Comments

Brahmin / Thakur

54.0%

7.6

4

 

75.0%

7.6

6

Modi Varanasi nomination might help

Kurmis

23.0%

7.5

2

 

75.0%

7.5

6

Alliance with Apna Dal

Lodhs

17.0%

5.0

1

 

75.0%

5.0

4

Kalyan Singh back in BJP

Jats

29.0%

3.6

1

 

75.0%

3.6

3

Jats angry with Ajit Singh due to Muzaffarnagar

Teli

29.0%

4.0

1

 

75.0%

4.0

3

Modi’s same caste would want to see him as PM

Other OBCs

29.0%

14.6

4

 

50.0%

14.6

7

Modi’s OBC status would help

Yadavs

6.0%

9.6

1

 

6.0%

9.6

1

Stay with Mulayam

Dalits

5.0%

20.1

1

 

5.0%

20.1

1

Stay with Mayawati

Muslims

6.0%

18.0

1

 

6.0%

18.0

1

Won’t vote because of polarisation

Others

24.0%

10.1

2

 

24.0%

11.0

3

Status quo

Total

 

 

~18

 

 

 

~33

 

However, if it manages to get additional 20% upper caste votes but only 50% of Kurmis, Lodhs, Teli & Jat & other OBC votes, it would get 28% of votes similar to 1999 and could actually end up getting 30 seats. 

Majority exit polls show that BJP is getting 45+ in UP. 

Modi’s PM dream hinges on the fact that Hindus vote for BJP in overwhelming numbers in UP, irrespective of their caste and give a thumbs up to the “development” agenda of BJP. Only time will tell……

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