SP-Congress eyes 50 out of 67 seats for Phase 2 Voting

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

While the SP did well in Phase1 2012 Assembly Elections, it was the party’s spectacular performance in Phase 2 that laid the foundation to win control over Uttar Pradesh. Out of the 67 seats that will go to polls in phase two, SP won more than half (34) in 2012 and this tally goes to 37 if Congress tally of three seats is included. A vote share analysis of 2012 indicates that if SP and Congress had contested together in 2012, they would have won more than 50 seats. 

Divided in two parts, the Terai (districts bordering Uttarakhand and Nepal) and Ruhelkhand (districts coming under the erstwhile kingdom of Ruhella Pathans, who came from Afghanistan in the late Mughal period), this region comprise a number of districts with high percentage of Muslim population like Rampur, Moradabad, Sambhal, Amroha, Pilibhit and so on. 

Phase 2 accordingly, is the turning point of the UP elections. The SP-Congress Alliance can either break away decisively from the field to chalk up a massive lead that their rivals would find it difficult to catch up in the remaining phases or the Alliance can find themselves contained to ensure Uttar Pradesh is still an open race.

SP-Congress Alliance

The SP swept this region, winning all eight seats of the Sambhal-Amroha districts, four of eight seats in Lakhimpur Kheri, four of six in Badaun, three of six in Shahjahanpur, three of four in Pilibhit and four of six seats in the Moradabad district.

Samajwadi Party will be banking on its alliance with Congress and the face of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The turnout of voters, especially minorities, in the 1st Phases has immensely boosted its morale.

“Our performance will be better this time, as we are in alliance with Congress. ‘Cycle’ (election symbol of the SP) with ‘Hand’ (the poll symbol of the Congress) will increase their pace from the second phase and race till the last phase,” Samajwadi Party MP from Badaun Dharmendra Yadav told IANS.

“We are expecting to win over 50 seats this time (in second phase) compared to 35 we won on our own in 2012,” he added.


The SP-Congress Alliance’s main challenger is the BSP. In the 2012 polls, the BSP had won 18 seats and finished second in 22 others. BSP’s Rajya Sabha member Veer Singh said that the party might not be getting too much play in the media, but it did well in the first phase too.

The BSP, which had emerged victorious in 11 seats in 2012, has tried hard to make a dent in SP’s Muslim vote bank. The party feels that it can improve its performance if it is able to wean away the Muslims. The Muslim-dominated areas will also be an acid test for BSP chief Mayawati, who is banking heavily on Dalit-Muslim vote bank, in the region which was once its favourite hunting ground. This time, BSP is relying on Muslim support by giving them maximum 97 tickets (out of 403). 

“We will perform much better in the second phase. There is anti-incumbency wave against the ruling Samajwadi Party and law and order situation is bad. People are also angry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he has not fulfilled promises. Demonetisation has ruined their life. People of Uttar Pradesh will take revenge. For them, BSP is the only option,” Veer Singh told IANS. 


The BJP, which had won 10 seats last time in the region, will be banking heavily on division in the Muslim votes and the support of OBCs. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had swept across most of these Assembly segments. While minority communities had even then voted against the BJP, it was the counter consolidation of the majority community and the division of the minority vote bank that ‎ led to the BJP's spectacular success. The question is whether the minority card of the BSP and SP-Congress alliance could again lead to a certain degree of majority counter consolidation in BJP's favour?

However, as reflected in Phase 1 BJP’s counter mobilisation strategy apparently fell flat. Notwithstanding this, in a limited way, due to a murder that has been painted in the communal colours, BJP banks heavily in doing well in 8 constituencies in Bijnor. The voter turnout of Bijnor, would give us a clue whether their expectations are fulfilled. The Muslims constitute 42% of the total population, whereas 57% people are Hindus—this makes Bijnor the ideal pitch for a polarised electoral battle. 

All Bets are on SP-Congress Alliance Sweep

While for the BSP, ‎its Muslim-Dalit formula will be at test, the SP-Congress alliance is banking on its established and proven track record of having no truce ever with the BJP. The BJP, despite being stung by the en masse desertion of Jat votes, will hope for confusion and division of the minority vote bank and a possible counter polarisation in its favour. 

And if polling in Phase 1 is any indicator, then the minority communities appear to be largely consolidating around the SP-Congress Alliance. Despite BSP Supremo Mayawati's efforts, the Muslim voters did not vote en-masse for the BSP and major section of the Muslims were still leaning towards the SP-Congress coalition. In the districts around the Agra division, the indications went in the coalition's favour, although at places where the BSP candidate appeared stronger than the coalition candidate, the Muslim votes went in BSP favour. In quite a surprising development, quite a number of Alliance candidates were also successful in getting Dalit votes, which is rings alarm bells for the future of Mayawati and BSP although it remains to be seen which way the political breeze blows in the remaining six phases of elections.

A Modi wave had swept Uttar Pradesh, including its western belt, during the 2014 general elections. But, in absence of a wave, electoral dynamics of caste and communities are expected to play a key role in deciding the fate of the contesting parties. In this Muslim and Dalit-dominated region, the going for the BJP could be extremely tough. The party apparently had the best shot in the 73 seats, which went to the polls in the first phase on February 11 but if ground reports are to be believed, trails the SP-Congress and BSP rather badly. 

The BJP, which had earlier declared the SP as its main rival, changed tack to announce the BSP as the “main force” in Uttar Pradesh. Political commenters revealed that the BJP also intends to “go soft” on the BSP, tacitly conceding that the SP-Congress alliance is the front runner to be winner in UP.

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