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UP’s Mahagathbandhan is Not Down and Out

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in stemming the anticipated decline in Uttar Pradesh, where its tally of 62 seats is just nine less than what it won in 2014, has had political pundits sound the death knell of the mahagathbandhan, or grand alliance, comprising the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

These pundits, however, gloss over the contradictions inherent in the enormous social base that the BJP has crafted for itself. The most backward class will soon be at loggerheads with the dominant groups among the Other Backward Classes, and both will soon discover the BJP’s predilection for the upper castes.

The mahagathbandhan will be in a position to exploit these contradictions once they come to the fore, because its social base hasn’t been swamped by the BJP. The alliance’s social base, in the main, draws on the support of Dalits, Yadavs and Muslims.

The post-poll survey of the Lokniti-CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) shows that 75% of Jatavs, 42% of non-Jatavs, 60% of Yadavs and 73% of Muslims voted for the mahagathbandhan.

In 2014, when the BSP, SP and RLD fought separately, the Lokniti-CSDS data shows that only 68% of Jatavs and 29% of non-Jatav Dalits supported the BSP. And only 53% of Yadavs voted for the SP. The Muslims were split among different parties in 2014, with the SP securing the lion’s share – 58% of their votes.

Also read | Explained: The BJP’s Stunning Performance in Uttar Pradesh

These comparative figures suggest that the alliance in 2019 consolidated the social base of its constituents better than what each could achieve on its own in 2014. It tripled its seats in the Lok Sabha, from five in 2014 to 15 in 2019. This compares favourably with the one seat each the Congress bagged in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, where its other partners failed to open their account.........

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