The UP Assembly elections took people by surprise. BJP made a clean sweep leaving regional parties like BSP miles behind in the final vote share score. Not that we were not expecting it; but the fact is nobody predicted such a massive win for BJP. There were different theories like a Hung assembly, and as we remember correctly, BSP was the sought after party for exploring a political alliance. Will there be a BJP-BSP alliance or a maha gathbandhan of SP-BSP-Congress was the guess work. However, that has been buried in the past now.
Yet, the question remains; how did the BJP defeat the likes of BSP having strong caste equations with the Dalit community? We possibly have an answer to this big question now.
One of the reasons for BJP’s huge victory is the party strategy to field candidates from the same caste as that of BSP. It is now confirmed that BJP had same caste representatives (as BSP) of around 50 seats. Obviously this caused a major dent to Mayawati’s traditional vote bank. The core support base of BSP (the Jatavs) was endangered by BJP beforehand.
How did it practically work?
The decision to contest elections on the same ground as Mayawati is not as convenient as it may seem. Of course, fielding the same caste candidates was smart, but to convince people to vote for them required a game plan.
BJP announced the name of the candidates contesting the election only after BSP had announced (own) party candidate list. BJP scored here as it knew how to tackle the opposition force exactly. BJP already knew the list of BSP candidates and Mayawati on the other hand, had no clue of BJP’s plan till the end of January 2017.
What BJP did?
- Jagdish Prajapati vs. Brajesh Prajapati in the Tindwari seat of Banda district
- BSP vs. BJP contesting for 30,000 members of the Prajapati caste
- Brajesh Prajapati of BJP got 82,197 votes and Jagdish Prajapati of BSP got 44,790 votes
- Jagdish Prasad Gautam vs Chandrika Prasad Upadhyaya in the Chitra koot seat
- BSP vs. BJP- both parties fielded Brahmin candidates
- Chandrika Prasad Upadhyaya of BJP got 90,366 votes against Jagdish getting 47,780 votes
- Chandrabhan Singh Patel vs. RK Singh Patel in Manikpur seat
- BSP vs. BJP battlefield of two Kurmi leaders
- RK Singh got 84,988 votes in comparison to 32,498 votes of Chandrabhan Singh
- Santosh Kushwaha vs. Ramratan Kushwaha in Lalitpur
- BSP vs. BJP caste battlefield staged in Lalitpur
- Ramratan Kushwaha of BJP had 1,56,942 votes and Santosh 55,549 votes
Conclusion for BSP
- 62 Brahmins contested. Only four won.
- 36 Kshatriya contested. Only three won.
- 106 OBC candidates. Only five won.
- 84 seats reserved for Dalits. Only two won.
- 100 Muslim nominees. Only five won.
As reported by Indian Express, “We failed to get support from the OBC groups and upper castes where our candidates belonged to the same caste as the BJP nominees. Not just the upper castes, even the OBCs preferred BJP to us,” said BSP coordinator, seeking anonymity.
BJP defeated BSP on its case arithmetic’s for OBC, Dalit, or upper caste candidates. On Muslim candidates, BSP was a third spot, with SP-congress alliance became the first choice for voters.
“The Muslim vote was divided between the BSP and SP-Congress. But Muslims voted for the SP-Congress candidates even on the seats where the alliance had not fielded a Muslim nominee,” said former MLA Sultan Beig, who lost as a BSP nominee from Meerganj in Bareilly district.
(with inputs from Indian Express)
“This way we tried to give the caste group the choice of choosing between our party and the other party. BJP emerged as the preferred choice for most of them. Then we could add the floating votes which were supporting us because of our party and because of Modiji. BSP suffered more because of this as most upper castes and OBCs sided with us,” said a BJP leader from Bundelkhand.