Reality check: How well did BJP really do in the UP civic polls? Here are the numbers
Contrary to the euphoria in the BJP camp over its performance in the civic elections in Uttar Pradesh, results indicate major setbacks for the ruling party.
The BJP may have won 14 mayoral posts, but it lost a bulk of nagar palika parishad seats and nagar panchayats seats to the Opposition in the very same districts.
Of the 126 seats of nagar palika parishad and nagar panchayat at stake in the 14 mayoral districts, the BJP lost 92 seats to Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress and, more importantly, to independents whom voters found more dependable than the official nominees of various parties.
Independents fare better
The important districts where its defeat must be a cause of some concern were Varanasi, Saharanpur and Mathura, where it did not win a single nagar palika parishad/nagar panchayat seats, and Gorakhpur, where it managed to win only three of eight seats.
Of 438 nagar panchayats, the BJP won 100. The SP with 83 seats was a close second, but independents outperformed them all by grabbing 181 seats.
Neither was there much to cheer for the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party as the vote share of the two has gone down in comparison to the Assembly elections held in February-March 2017.
While Samajwadi Party’s vote percentage came down from 21.8% in the Assembly elections to 18%, that of the BSP fell from 22.2 per cent to 18%. In that respect, the local body polls brought about parity between the two sworn enemies.
The Congress was the surprise gainer as its vote percentage rose from 6.2 to 10.
For the BJP, the areas of concern in the nagar palika parishad were Central UP and Rohilkhand regions, both of which have 45 seats each. With a seat share of 31.1 per cent in Central UP and 35.6% in Rohilkhand the SP was ahead of the ruling party which had a seat share of 28.9% and 33.3% respectively. The vote share of BJP (25.5) was, however, more than that of SP (24.9) in Central UP. In Rohilkhand the SP’s vote share of 29.1 % was higher than the BJP’s 28.8 %.
The independents did better than the three Opposition parties combined in the nagar panchayat and nagar palika elections.
The vote share of independents jumped from 2.5 % in the Assembly elections to 20.4 per cent in the civic polls. In the nagar palika parishad presidents’ election the independents garnered a vote share of 28.3 per cent, which was only marginally less than BJP’s 28.6 per cent.
Because of the surge in independents’ vote share the ruling party’s vote percentage also saw a sizeable decline from 39.7% in March 2017 to 30.8% in the just concluded elections.
Ending a rebellion
A race is now on to win over these independents, some of whom were party rebels. The SP was the first to announce that it would try and lure rebels back into the party fold.
The BSP’s only good showing, incidentally, has been in the mayoral elections. It registered twin successes in Meerut and Aligarh, both BJP strongholds if one goes by the Assembly results. These two victories have made the BSP leadership wonder if they would come useful in the 2019 elections as Dalit-Muslim combination is said to have tilted the balance in Mayawati’s favour.
This was the first time that the BSP contested urban local body polls on party symbol.
But the BSP’s defeat in Saharanpur by 1,800 votes indicated that nothing has changed for it on the ground in this district. In the Assembly elections, too, the BSP candidates were runners-up in Behat, Saharanpur, Deoband and Rampur Maniharan. Saharanpur Nagar seat was won by SP and BJP was the runner up while in Gangoh Congress was placed second.
The Dalit-Muslim combination which helped the BSP candidates win in Meerut and Aligarh did not work in Saharanpur where Mayawati held public meetings after caste clashes between Dalits and Rajputs.
In other semi-urban bodies the BSP was behind SP by a sizeable margin.
The BJP also led the pack by winning 596 seats of municipal corporators, followed by SP 202, BSP 147 and Congress 100. Independents pushed SP to the third spot by winning 224 seats.
The overall seats won by the BSP do not give any hint of the party’s resurgence. Instead, it is the Samajwadi Party which has retained its number two position overall despite suffering a whitewash in the mayoral poll. For the BSP, the road ahead is as potholed as those in many parts of Uttar Pradesh.