IndiaToday Over-Rides Their Pre-Poll & Proclaim SP-Congress Alliance Front Runner to Win UP

Friday, February 17, 2017

This is a clear signal from IndiaToday coming on the eve of the 3rd Phase of UP. Though they still use much of their pre-poll data, it is certain from voting trends of the first two phases, how potent the SP-Congress alliance is – a runaway winner. And that is how IndiaToday call the race. We provide select extracts from their latest cover story, but do use the link to the original story at the end of the post as the original article provides a good overview to the battle of UP together with alot of data.

What advantage does the alliance have to offer voters? Former councillor Mohammed Suhail Qureshi of SP says "it has ensured that the minority votes will not get divided, will not get wasted. The Muslim youth who were earlier confused about which way to vote now seem to have got a totally new direction. Today, the minority vote is totally focused on the alliance".

"The Congress-SP coalition has youthful energy, a futuristic outlook and has set a new paradigm of development," says Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala. "This is the only coalition with a positive agenda of propelling UP forward as against the parochial visions of caste and religion both the BJP and BSP propagate."

When asked what the Congress will bring to the table, Surjewala said: "The fact that the party that came to power on its own in the last assembly elections has decided to shed over 100 seats for the Congress speaks volumes for the acceptance of the Congress among UP voters. The Congress brings a new awareness of the rights of the farmers and the youth, and a cohesive, cohabitative and composite outlook to the coalition."

To get a sense of where the SP-Congress alliance stands currently, it is pertinent to consider the performance of the various parties in 2012 in the seven regions of UP. In western UP, the SP won merely 10 out of 44 seats, with 20.5 per cent vote share. Its best performance was in Meerut district, where it won three out of seven seats (the BJP won the other four seats, and despite its sagging performance in the rest of the state, the BSP swept western UP, winning 17 of the 44 seats, with 29.2 per cent of the vote). The SP's performance was also weak in Bundelkhand, where it won just five out of the 19 seats, with 23.5 per cent votes.

However, in the five other regions of UP, the SP was ahead of its rivals. The party's best performance was in Awadh, where it won 55 of the 73 seats, with a vote share of 33 per cent. It won 52 of 81 seats and had a vote share of 32 per cent in Purvanchal, 32 of 61 seats with a vote share of 28 per cent in northeast UP (Terai belt bordering Nepal), 41 of 73 seats in Doab, which has the maximum concentration of the dominant OBC caste of Yadavs. In Rohilkhand, the SP won 29 of 52 seats.

"The alliance is bound to change the entire arithmetic of the 2017 assembly polls," says Adil Khan, 70, an SP leader from Agra. It is likely to bear fruit even in western UP, according to SP leaders, where the party base has traditionally been weak. The region has a strong concentration of Muslims (almost 22 per cent), Dalits (about 18 per cent) and Jats. This is where the alliance concentrated its road shows and rallies.

However, though the alliance has generated a buzz across UP, its success will rest on the quality of the campaign and the ability to transfer votes from one party to another. Traditionally, the SP is better at transferring votes to its allies compared to the Congress.
Going by pure arithmetic, if the SP and Congress had hypothetically tied up in the previous three assembly polls, the alliance would have secured a decisive majority in each of them. In 2012, the SP swept the polls on its own, forming a majority government. A Congress alliance would have turned that into a three-quarters majority. But even in 2007, when the BSP beat SP and Mayawati formed a majority government, the combined SP-Congress vote would have easily helped them form a government.

Moreover, pre-poll alliances tend to work geometrically in a first-past-the-post system of plurality vote. The seat share gets exaggerated algebraically once votes are combined. If the transfer of votes between the SP and Congress works smoothly, only a massive 7 to 11 per cent swing away from the SP-Congress alliance can ensure its defeat. Given the popularity of the Akhilesh-Rahul combine among the youth and the manner in which the alliance is dictating the agenda of the campaign, the alliance appears in more or less the same advantageous position as the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav mahagathbandhan in Bihar in the 2015 assembly election.

Read the full article: HERE

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