OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

In nearly over a decade Uttar Pradesh has a majority government. As the BSP’s  Mayawati settles down into the Chief Minister’s chair in Lucknow, the political games have begun. Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh who has been in Mayawati’s crosshairs has virtually dared her to put him in jail. On another front Mayawati herself has been facing corruption heat in the Taj Corridor case doing the rounds in the CBI court. Mayawati while accusing Mulayam of having foisted the case on her out of frustration, made quite clear her Government’s priorities including weeding out criminals who had a free reign until now. Meanwhile the daggers were out in the BJP with UP-in-charge Kalyan Singh tendering his resignation owning moral responsibility for the poor performance. BJP President Rajnath Singh himself is likely to face music as the BJP sits down to analyze the debacle.

With the Presidential election up in the air and Mayawati likely to play a key role, Offstumped takes a hard look at the 402 detailed seat by seat results to glean insights into what exactly happened over the seven phase assembly election.

But first Offstumped Headline on the overall result.

The simple majority for Mayawati in the assembly is clearly a statistical aberration.

Let there be no misunderstanding here, there was clear wave in favor of Mayawati’s BSP that saw her pick up 105 seats from her opponents decisively, i.e. seats where the margin of victory was greater than 3%. But the BSP also lost around 33 seats it previously held. So how did Mayawati get to the magic number of 208 – she got there by winning or holding on to about 59 tossup seats with marging of victory less than 3%. That explains why every post poll prediction pegged Mayawati between 130 and 160.

So while Mayawati had a lot of momentum going in her favor, she was going strong in only a net of 60 seats. It was the magic of turnouts in the other 59 seats that saw her cross the half way mark, nothing else.

Insight # 1 – Turnouts matter and the outcome in UP could have very easily gone the other way but for those 59 tossup seats

How did Mulayam manage come to second ?

Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party which lost 99 seats to its opponents managed to retain the second spot. How did Mulayam manage to do this ? While Mulayam picked up only 26 seats decisively (greater than 3%) from his opponents he managed to hold on or win about 42 tossup seats (less than 3%). It is these 42 tossup seats that saved the day for Mulayam but for which his loss would have been wider and could have cost him the leader of opposition status.

Insight #2 – SP finishing second was as much a statistical aberration and Mulayam owes his leader of opposition status to the magic of turnouts more than anything else

Where exactly did the BJP lose ground ?

The BJP lost 67 seats while picking up overall 24 seats. Of these 15 seats were won decisively while the BJP held on to or picked up 16 tossup seats. Of the 67 seats the BJP lost, 44 went to the BSP and only 18 to the SP. The BJP gained 16 seats (decisive and tossups) from the SP so it lost as much ground as it gained against the SP.  But the BJP gained only 4 seats from the BSP.  The bulk of the BJP’s losses come not from tossups that it held onto previously but from safe seats the BJP had won decisively over the years.  To understand the impact of strong BJP seats swinging to BSP consider the following:

Puranpur – BSP relegates BJP to 4th place

Bawan – BJP loses 25% vote share

Shahabad – BJP loses 15% vote share

Sultanpur – nearly 20% loss

Haidergarh – Rajnath’s old seat nearly 20% loss

Belt of seats from Fatehpur, Ramnagar, Kaiserganj with around 15% vote loss

Doaba – 15%

Allahabad North – Congress pushes BJP to 3rd place trouncing a 4 time incumbent

Allahabad South – BJP President Kesrinath Tripathi being trounced

Maudaha – 15% loss

Belt of urban seats Agra West, Kheragarh, Goverdhan, Meerut which have long been BJP safe seats.

If there is one lesson emerging for the BJP from these losses it is the disenchantment with long time incumbents. The BJP clearly messed up candidate selection. It should have had a better sense of anti-incumbency in specific safe seats. With the 24 pickups the BJP could have gotten past the 100 mark had it done a better job dealing with incumbents.

The BJP vote base that had remained intact since the watershed years of 1990s had drifted significantly in these safe seats to the BSP is indicative of the “soft hindutva” Mayawati has experimented with.

Insight# 3 – Blue is the new saffron in UP.

What of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi

The overall numbers have put to rest all media hype around Rahul Gandhi’s impact on UP. But the detailed analysis blows to bits the Congress spin around his impact. The Congress picked up only 10 seats decisively from other parties but 6 of those 10 pickups came from the fifth phase of polling mainly from the Rae Barelli region, though Rae Barelli itself was a huge setback for the Congress. Most of the credit for this is apparently goes to Priyanka who toured extensively in Amethi and Rae Barelli. The rest of the pickups and tossups are scattered and random to glean any meaningful impact by Rahul Gandhi.

Insight #4 – Rahul Gandhi was good entertainment but in the final analysis only marginally relevant.

Offstumped Bottomline: Overall the real story is that 163 seats changed parties decisively and 131 seats were close contests. Uttar Pradesh has far from made up its mind. The BSP simple majority is a statistical aberration, Mayawati should make the most of it while it lasts.

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