In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

by Venu Gopal Narayanan - Dec 21, 2021 05:18 PM +05:30 IST
In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22 Uttar Pradesh Elections 2022
Snapshot
  • Analysis of 2017 and 2019 numbers suggests that if the BSP proceeds with its decision of contesting the 2022 assembly elections alone, the BJP could very well improve upon its 2017 performance on SC seats.

This is the second part of a series which analyses the forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh using historical voter data and ongoing opinion polls.

A primary inference from the first part of this series was that the contest in Uttar Pradesh is becoming increasingly bipolar. This is in spite of shifting political tie-ups, within and between groupings.

Analyses indicate that from 2014 onwards in general, and between 2017 and 2019 in particular, the bulk of the vote share is getting progressively divided between the two main coalitions, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), with other parties contesting on their own being squeezed to the fringe.

In this second past, our focus is on the dynamics of reserved seats.

As many as 86 of the 403 seats in the UP legislature are reserved — 84 for Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes (ST). The two tribal seats, Obra and Duddhi, have been with the BJP since 2014, and barring internal strife, the party is expected to win both in 2022 as well.

The 84 SC seats constitute 21 per cent of the total. Although this figure matches the 2011 census, the statewide SC distribution is not uniform. It ranges from a low of 13 per cent in districts like Gautam Buddh Nagar, Rampur, and Varanasi, to over 30 per cent in Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao and Kaushambi.

A map below shows the district-wise SC population in Uttar Pradesh:

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

Mayawati employed a deft mixture of SCs and Muslims as an electoral formula for her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), to successfully milk the rank identity vote for two decades.

Here is a map of the state’s Muslim population by district:

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

As a combined map of district-wise Muslim-plus-SC population shows, the numbers were formidable enough to force a mandate (just as Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Muslim-plus-Yadav combination had for the SP) when they voted for the BSP en masse:

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

But everything changed with the advent of Narendra Modi onto the national stage in 2014. Old groupings fashioned on fear, victimhood and appeasement came apart at the seams, as community after community started to rise above restrictive, repressive, regressive manacles of a sham character, to commence a shift to the BJP.

The first to break away were the Jats of western UP, in 2014. That took the wind out of the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) sails. Next to depart, in 2017, were the non-Jatav Dalits, which reduced the BSP to a mere 19 seats. In 2019, it was the turn of the non-Yadav OBCs, which caused the SP to lose seven segments from the 47 they won in 2017 — even though they were contesting along with the BSP.

Consequently, the BJP won 69 of the 84 SC seats in 2017, and their allies won five. That’s a total of 74, or 88 per cent. Their average vote share in these 74 seats was a remarkable 45 per cent. The BSP, whose parish this once had been, averaged about half of that — 23 per cent. A map of the SC seats won by different parties in 2017 tells it all:

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

In 2019, the BJP led in 58 assembly segments and their ally, the Apna Dal, in one — a total of 59. They were down 15 seats from 2017, but their vote share in the 59 they won went up to a stunning 54 per cent — a full three per cent over their state average, and nine whole percentage points over what they got, in the SC seats they won in 2017. And remember, this was when the SP, the BSP and the RLD contested the 2019 general elections as one.

Again, a map says it all:

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

This astounding transformation in voting patterns is best highlighted by a table showing seat wins by category, and the changes which took place between 2017 and 2019.

In Maps: How The Reserved Seats In UP Voted In 2017 And '19, And What It Could Mean For '22

We see that the BSP gained 10 SC seats from the BJP, and the SP, only four. That means the 2019 tie-up benefited the BSP more than it did the SP. (Indeed, the BSP’s overall tally ‘shot up’ from 19 in 2017 to 65 in 2019, while the SP declined from 47 to 40)

Perhaps this is why the SP and the BSP have been so chary, thus far, of aligning for the 2022 elections — more an SP fear, that the BSP might end up benefiting greatly at the SP’s short term cost and long term detriment.

The Congress gained one from the BJP, but that was actually an SP-BSP bye, since the segment, Bachhrawan, comes under Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareily parliamentary constituency, which the rest of the opposition ‘chivalrously’ avoided contesting. So discounting that, their prospects of winning SC seats in 2022 are about the same as what they achieved in 2017: zero.

The BJP didn’t gain a single SC segment from the BSP in 2019, and only one from the SP — Mohanlalganj. But the true wonder is that the BJP was able to improve its vote share significantly, against a resolute SP-BSP-RLD axis. In fact, it even took two of the three seats won by the Rajbhar SBSP party, an ally in 2017, and not in 2019.

All the more unbelievably, the BJP’s vote share went up even in the seats they lost to the SP-BSP-RLD. The positive swing was a shade under five per cent. The only SC assembly segment they lost, in which their vote share declined, was Chakia. Ironically this was a seat which they won in 2017, by a handsome margin of 8.6 per cent over the BSP, and with 41.3 per cent of the popular vote (it was a three-way contest in which the SP came last).

This was the first indicator of a strong counter-consolidation at work in UP, in the BJP’s favour, which will be elaborated upon in a subsequent piece.

Therefore, Swarajya’s current assessment is that if the BSP proceeds with its decision of contesting the 2022 assembly elections alone, then the BJP could very well improve upon its 2017 alliance tally of 74 SC seats.

In the next piece of this series, our focus will be on seat gains, holds, and how those reflect the changing political dynamics of Uttar Pradesh

(All electoral data is from ECI website and 2011 Census)

Venu Gopal Narayanan is an independent upstream petroleum consultant who focuses on energy, geopolitics, current affairs and electoral arithmetic. He tweets at @ideorogue.
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