Western and Central UP Saw Bipolar Contests; Multi-Angle Battles in the East
This is the first part of a series on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2022.
The recently concluded parliamentary elections in Uttar Pradesh have been filled with speculation on a host of topics. The political questions ranged from standard questions, about the extent to which various communities would band together under which banner, to psephological questions, which sought to quantify the vote shares and seats a coalition might achieve.
They swirled at a merry pace with colorful campaigns, and thankfully finally, without the specter of any political violence. Some of them were hilarious and outlandish. A few of the usual suspects actually persisted with the tale of an ‘RDL wave’ in western UP, before being booed derisively out of sight (this was a reference to the Rashtriya Lok Dal, a fringe, who swung into UP politics, which was in a desperate alliance with the main opposition Samajwadi Party, or SP, for one last shot at relevance).
Journalists struggled to keep a straight face when SP’s Akhilesh Yadav predicted his party would win 300 of 403 seats. The Congress party, led by Priyanka Vadra, got inordinate airtime thanks to generous mainstream media; this narrative gave the impression that Congress alone would win 300 seats.
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi has claimed with grandeur that her party will do well in these polls. The popular response to this was to go viral, a video clip of the desperate Sena politician rambling campaigning in empty streets!
Others were less flippant and correctly assessed that this election would be mostly bipolar, with the bulk of the contests and the bulk of the votes being between the SP and the BJP. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was expected to lose most of its Muslim electoral base to the SP alliance, with an as yet undetermined fraction of its Jatav core moving to the BJP.
Yet despite all this, there was no doubt in most minds that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and propelled by the remarkably sustained popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would be elected. with at least a simple majority.
Therefore, the main aim of pollsters and analysts was to try to predict, as accurately as possible, the extent of the BJP’s victory. before the exit polls were out. It would be a mark of how well a team understood the state’s electoral dynamics. Here are the results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections: