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Mahagathbandhan: The what-if factor of UP polls

By Aslam Hunani
April 11, 2017 12:57 IST
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It's a month today, April 11, since the BJP's historic victory in Uttar Pradesh.
Could a grand alliance between the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress -- built along the lines of the successful Bihar mahagatbandhan of 2015 -- have changed the outcome of the UP polls?
Rediff.com's Aslam Hunani finds out.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Mahagathbandhan alliance

The Bharatiya Janata Party's decisive win in the Uttar Pradesh elections -- despite the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress -- has given currency to the idea that halting the saffron march will now require a mahagatbandhan or a grand alliance of all the Opposition parties.

The elections gave a clear mandate to the BJP, with the party winning 312 seats on its own.

Its alliances with the Apna Dal (Sonelal), which won 9 seats, and the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which won 4 seats, took the BJP's tally to 325 seats in a 403-member assembly.

In comparison, the SP-Congress-alliance together won just 54 seats, while the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party trailed with a dismal 19 seats.

From Rediff Labs: Constituency-wise results of the UP assembly election, 2017

 

Data analysts believe that a mahagathbandhan between the SP, BSP and Congress -- cast in the mould of the Bihar grand alliance of 2015 -- would have changed the outcome of the UP elections.

The mahagathbandhan in Bihar between the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United, the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress had united the biggest parties in the state against the BJP, thus consolidating their respective vote banks and getting them a clear mandate.

In UP, however, the pre-poll alliance only brought together the Congress and SP, resulting in fractured vote banks and a triangular race between the BJP, the SP-Congress combine and the BSP, all of which worked in the BJP's favour.

An analysis of the voting pattern in the state indicates that a grand alliance could have won as many as 280 seats and limited the BJP to about 116 seats.

Also, the SP could have retained its position as the party with the highest number of seats.

From Rediff Labs: Constituency-wise results of the UP elections in case of a grand alliance.

 

A grand alliance in UP would have also boosted the Muslim representation in the state assembly, which is now at its lowest since 1991.

The fight between the SP and BSP's Muslim candidates proved beneficial for the BJP which did not field a single Muslim candidate.

In 28 of the constituencies that the BJP and its allies won, the first and second runner-ups were Muslim candidates who lost as a result of the community's divided voting.

The highest representation of Muslims is from the SP, which sent 17 Muslims to the assembly.

The BSP, which fielded 100 Muslim candidates, sent only 5 Muslims to the assembly.

The newly-elected assembly of 403 MLAs now has only 24 Muslims, a 5.9 per cent representation for a community that makes up 19 per cent of the state's population.

The previous assembly had 69 Muslim members, which gave the community 17 per cent representation in the House.

The question of a grand alliance gains further importance as UP prepares for seven by-elections, two for Lok Sabha seats and five for assembly seats.

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Aslam Hunani / Rediff.com Mumbai
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