‘Akhilesh did politics like Rabi and Kharif crop which come once a year. Politics is not seasonal, you have to harvest your field all through the year and only then you get a good crop.’
Political analyst Dr AK Verma lists 12 reasons why Akhilesh Yadav lost the UP elections, in a conversation with Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has more than doubled its seat share this time compared to the 2017 elections.
It won 46 seats in 2017 and this time the SP is expected to win to around 115 seats, going by the Election Commission of India leads at 3.45 pm.
Akhilesh also managed to raise his party's vote share to around 32 percent in 2022 from the 21 percent that it got in 2017.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, had 41 percent vote share in 2017 elections which has gone up to 42 percent this time round.
“Akhilesh gave a spirited contest to the BJP. Had there been a three-way contest and Mayawati contested in a major way by taking some of the BJP’s vote share, Akhilesh would have surely won UP,” says Dr A K Verma, political analyst from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com, Dr Verma lists 12 reasons why Akhilesh Yadav lost the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
1. Bipolar Contest
Bipolar contest became a huge setback for Akhilesh as the voters got divided between only two parties. In this the BJP was able to hold on to its vote share.
In terms of vote share it is a clear victory for Akhilesh as his vote share rose from 21 to 32 percent, which is huge. Therefore, I will not say it is a big defeat for him.
He managed to almost triple his seats from less than 50 in 2017. However, he could not make a dent in the BJP’s vote share of 42 percent.
Had Mayawati contested this election seriously then she could have made a dent in BJP votes which could have benefited Akhilesh Yadav but that did not happen.
You must know that Akhilesh Yadav got 29 percent vote share and formed the government in 2012 but at that time the contest was four-cornered and therefore the votes got evenly distributed among Akhilesh’s rivals which led to his victory.
So, see the irony, when he got 29 percent vote share he became CM in a four-cornered contest but when he got 32 percent vote share his party is sitting in the opposition.
2. Non-Yadav OBC vote
It is still substantially with the BJP and not with Akhilesh Yadav. The reason is that Akhilesh has got a big legacy of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mulayam never wanted to homogenise Other Backward Castes.
It is a big drawback of OBC politics in UP. If you want to do OBC politics then Akhilesh should have concentrated on all the three OBC castes: Yadavs, More Backward Class and Most Backward Class.
Unfortunately, Akhilesh talks of Ram Manohar Lohia as Samajwadi Party’s political mentor but Lohia never believed in caste politics and here Akhilesh is doing sub-caste politics and that too Yadav politics.
A politician has to be inclusive. If the BJP has won 16 percent of Yadav votes that means Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being accepted by Yadav voters as his inclusive politics is appealing to them.
3. Jatav vote
85 percent of the Jatav votes went to Mayawati traditionally. In this election it has been cut down to 40 percent. Akhilesh this time got 19 percent of Jatav votes but the BJP got a bigger share of 33 percent Jatav votes.
Though 19 percent of Jatav votes is significant growth for Akhilesh, with which he can build up the future growth of his party.
4. Women voters
11 percent more women voted for the BJP. There was high-handedness against criminals under the Yogi Adityanath government which certainly improved the law and order situation. There was bulldozing of mafia in UP and this impact was felt in society and they felt relief.
Women are at the receiving end whenever there is a law and order problem and therefore you see 51 percent of the women voted for BJP which was a huge loss to Akhilesh.
In our earlier study in 2017, we found that 60-65 percent of Muslims used to vote for Akhilesh, 18 percent used to vote for BSP and 9 percent voted for the BJP. This time Muslim voted almost 80 percent for the Samajwadi Party.
But in spite of that the BJP held its vote share tightly. There was an accretion which came from western Uttar Pradesh where the Jat community voted BJP in big numbers.
In 2019, 91 percent voted for the BJP but this time it dropped to 71 percent. Though there was a downslide of 20 percent of Jat votes for BJP, it did not dent its overall vote share of 41 percent.
6. Farmers’ protest
It was a non-issue in this election. It was a middle-man’s agitation. And farmers voted the BJP in huge numbers.
If you see the map of Uttar Pradesh and move from western Uttar Pradesh to eastern Uttar Pradesh, landholdings start reducing. The only two places where you have huge landholdings are western UP and areas of Bundelkhand. But if you travel from western UP to eastern UP, you have marginal farmers and small farmers. They were given Rs 6000 by BJP every year and Ayushman Bima Yojana which gave them a protection of Rs 5 lakhs. Also, Direct Benefit Transfer gave them a sense of financial security. This vote remained intact with the BJP, thus causing a loss to Akhilesh.
7. Covid crisis
Akhilesh did not play an active role to help the people of Uttar Pradesh during the Covid crisis. People were not happy with the BJP’s rule then but at least they felt that the BJP provided them with rations and helped them financially by Direct Benefit Transfer schemes.
Akhilesh could have joined the government in helping out people and be a part of the delivery system. Had he done that, people would have noticed it but instead he was only criticising the Yogi government.
People respect opposition parties too like they respect ruling party government because Covid was not a crisis for any ruling party but a national crisis.
8. Covid vaccine
It was a blunder for Akhilesh Yadav to call the vaccine as BJP vaccine. It was a damaging statement for him. The BJP though did not make this a campaign issue.
9. SP Maurya and other BJP turncoats
He took in such people at the last moment by making them allies to take on the BJP. People like Maurya are only paper politicians. They do not have any standing on their own. Politics has moved out to a fulltime job and you cannot do cosmetic politics like Priyanka Gandhi did in Uttar Pradesh.
10. Twitter politics
Akhilesh became a Twitter politician. He was only busy tweeting about issues. He should have been present and doing ground-level politics throughout the year but that did not happen.
11. Negative politics
Akhilesh only spoke about negative politics. He only speaks negatively about the BJP. You cannot do that all the time. He has got into that mode of criticising and being offensive.
People understand what is right and wrong. He never gave an alternative model on how he could do things differently if he was elected to power.
You cannot just criticise the ruling party and not give an alternative vision. You may not like PM Modi but at least respect the fact that the people of Uttar Pradesh like him and vote for him.
12. Seasonal politics
He did politics like Rabi and Kharif crop which come once a year. Politics is not seasonal, you have to harvest your field all through the year and only then you get a good crop.
He will have to earn credit because he has a huge support base and got 32 percent votes, which is very good.