NEW DELHI: Come war drums or media blitz, the political star of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on the decline in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, according to data analysts on Wednesday. The day also saw opposition leader Mayawati slipping out of the race in order to focus more on giving a hard time to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The iconic Dalit politician said she would not contest the April-May national election and that she would rather campaign for the candidates of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and that of ally Samajwadi Party. “I won’t contest polls. I am confident that my party will completely understand my decision. Our coalition is doing well. I can vacate a seat and contest later if I wish,” the former chief minister told reporters in Lucknow.
The BSP has teamed up with its bitter rival Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav to take on the BJP in UP in the national polls from April 11 to May 19.
Data analysis by NDTV’s Prannoy Roy claimed that the Mayawati-Yadav combo alone could bring down the BJP-led alliance’s score in the state from 73 to 37, even if Modi’s popularity is at the level of the 2014 national election.
Opposition leader Mayawati not to contest
The addition of Congress to the mix could have deducted another 14 seats from the BJP tally, reducing it to 23 seats, NDTV’s data showed.
The situation remains similar even if data from the 2017 assembly election in the state is crunched. The current situation in the state, where the Congress has been kept out of the Mayawati-Yadav alliance, could add as many as 14 more seats to the BJP numbers, data shows.
Both Mayawati and Yadav have become resolutely against allowing the Congress to be part of the alliance in the state, which means possible triangular contests in most of the 80 seats, and a split in the anti-BJP vote.
The four-time chief minister has been in parliament several times. She was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994. The 63-year-old was widely expected to opt out of the contest.
Both Mayawati and Yadav had made it clear that they would focus on the campaign and ensuring maximum wins for their gathbandhan (alliance).
Mayawati, considered a Dalit powerhouse, had a miserable outing in the 2014 election when her party failed to win a single seat in the 80-seat state.
The BSP, however, won nearly 20 per cent of the votes in Uttar Pradesh and was number three in most seats.
The BSP-Samajwadi alliance has proved to be a winner in significant bypolls last year and is tipped to perform well in the upcoming polls. The only spoiler could be a division of opposition votes because of the Congress, which had launched Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in its UP campaign.
On Tuesday, Mayawati again gave the Congress the brush-off, responding to its move to leave seven seats for the Samajwadi-BSP gathbandhan. “The Congress should not create confusion by forcibly trying to leave seven seats for the gathbandhan,” Mayawati tweeted.
Her alliance partner Yadav told NDTV that as a big party, the Congress “must try to help the other political parties”.
“For instance, they must try to help Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal can fight and they must support them. In Uttar Pradesh, we have an alliance ready, they must support us,” he told NDTV.
A section of local leaders of the Congress told NDTV that being a part of the alliance would have taken them closer to the ultimate goal of defeating the BJP.
Others remain sanguine. Senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said it would have only meant a difference in the margin of victory.
“I have complete confidence that the tally of the Congress and the alliance, taken together, would be 50 to 60 seats. Had we fought together, our tally would have been 90-plus seats and the BJP figures would have shrunk to single digit,” he told NDTV.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2019