Perhaps, the time has come to take a call. Uttar Pradesh poll prediction is extremely tough. Even after the conclusion of the last phase it is still difficult to predict, let alone the contours of the new Government, but even the possible, single largest party. A large part of the conundrum lies in there not ‘not being a wave’. Fine. But still, why are political pundits failing to catch the drift of the undercurrent?
It is anybody’s guess that both Rajdeep Sardesai and Prannoy Roy predict BJP’s victory, not in good faith or analysis, but bad faith and vested interest. Rajdeep bases his entire logic on how BJP got 42% share of the popular vote in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. And how it is impossible for Modi’s party to lose beyond 10% of the vote share. So, Rajdeep elaborates, the BJP sits comfortable with 32%; and hence, gets an assured majority!
How philistine can you get? Is this the only logic one of India’s top journalist can produce? Note that Rajdeep does not go for how things always start from zero in Vidhan Sabha elections. And if there is a basic vote that you can count upon, it lies in the figures of the previous Vidhan Sabha elections wherein BJP got just 15% of the vote. In fact, on the basis of 2012 performance, even a full fledged ‘BJP wave’ will not translate in more than a 10% jump in the saffron party’s vote share. And at 25-25%, BJP cannot get 200 seats!
Prannoy Roy is subtle and hides behind extensive tables etc–that usually impresses the middle class. But without analysing his own tables, Roy abruptly gives BJP the winning, 55-65% chance of forming the Government.
Mathematical and ground reality
Actually, in the absence of a wave, BJP reaching 200 plus seats implies the saffron party getting roughly half the seats in each of the seven phases. Even the most optimistic of BJP enthusiasts are not ready to cut 403 into half in the party’s favour. It is common knowledge that along with Muslims, Jats and Gujjars of west UP did not vote for BJP in large numbers. Jatavs by and large remained with BSP. In 2014, Jats, Gujjars and even Jatavs voted for BJP…plus Muslims remained deeply fragmented. The non Jatav SCs and other OBCs might have gone in BJP’s favour. But their polling percentage was low.
BJP is not getting more than 35 seats out of 140 polled in the first two phases.
Out of 69 constituencies polled in the third phase, BJP, which seems to have done quite well in the upper part of central UP, might get 30. Out of the 105 seats that went to polls in the fourth and fifth phases (middle and lower parts of central UP, lower Doaba and Bundelkhand), the saffron party is not crossing 35. Polling was remarkably low.
So, here is my prediction:
Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha 2017
Total seats: 403
BJP might still achieve a 9-10% jump from its 15% vote share in 2012. There is little doubt that the saffron party has made deep inroads within non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav SCs. But even a good performance does not allow BJP the majority it is seeking.
On the contrary, if SP-Congress 2012 votes are combined, the alliance touches 43%. But here lies the rub: the alliance will probably get 28-29% vote. That means a 14% loss from its 2012 positioning. And yet, in the overall political-electoral picture, the alliance outscores both BJP and BSP by at least 4-5%! And emerges as number one in the race!
This is where things get really unpredictable. For even a 2-3 increase in alliance votes will see it sail past 200. It seems RLD’s support will remain vital for any post-result, Government formation. RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary will most likely emerge as the Deputy Chief Minister. Samajwadi Party will be seen as losing significant percentage points. But such is the nature of these elections that the next CM will be from SP only. Congress will be the overall political gainer…but it’s electoral growth will remain slow in terms of percentage points. BSP will improve on its 2012 performance but not to the extent of forming a Government.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)