THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 22 MARCH, 2019
At Expense of Coalition, Congress Sees “Revival” in UP Lok Sabha Seats Where It Did Not Even Exist in 2014
#TCVotes - Contests BSP directly in six seats in western UP
NEW DELHI: What could have been certain victory in most Lok Sabha seats in UP is now under a question mark with the Congress having decided to contest the polls separate from the SP-BSP-RLD coalition.
A quick look at the first seats announced for western Uttar Pradesh by the Bahujan Samaj party and the Congress demonstrates this, with a clash imminent in at least six of the 11 or so Lok Sabha constituencies finalised by the two political parties in this region.
Meerut, Saharanpur, Bijnor, Nagina, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahr are some of the seats where both the BSP and the Congress will be contesting each other, and the BJP as well. And these are seats that a larger coalition could have won, but now with a three pronged contest the future remains shaky.
The 2014 Lok Sabha election results shows that the Congress party has legitimate claim to just one of these parliamentary constituencies Saharanpur in its first list, where it secured 34.14 per cent of the vote share as against the winning BJP MP’s 39.59%. If the Congress had joined the SP-BSP-RLD coalition in the parliamentary elections now its vote share, given the past results, would have crossed 58%. Currently the vote share remains as divided for Saharanpur as it was in the last polls, as the SP and BSP had together secured 24% that does not bring it anywhere close to victory in this seat.
In the other five Lok Sabha seats it is not clear why the Congress party has decided to field candidates at all. As given the peculiar nature of consolidation of votes in this region, it will be cutting into the coalition’s vote banks. In Bulandshahr the BJP had secured 59.83% of the votes with the BSP, SP and low RLD struggling with a combined vote of 36%. The Congress party had not even contested these elections from Bulandshahr Lok Sabha.
In Gautam Buddh Nagar, won by the BJP, the Congress party had secured just about one per cent of the vote share. And yet it has fielded a candidate to cut into what was then just about a 43 combined vote share of the SP and BSP, who will now together be contesting the BJP that had secured 50% of the votes.
In Meerut again the Congress has fielded a candidate with its 3 per cent vote share of the last parliamentary polls. The coalition together accounted for 46 per cent votes, a good two per cent less than the numbers secured by the BJP. But instead of helping add to the numbers of the SP-BSP-RLD coalition, the Congress will cut into it with this constituency highly polarised on communal lines.
There was no Congress candidate in Bijnor in the last polls, but this time the party has claimed the seat. This despite the fact that it is a close fight between the BJP (45.92% in 2014) and the coalition with almost 50 per cent of the votes.
Same story from Nagina Lok Sabha, which the Congress did not contest last time but will contest this election. The BJP had secured 39 per cent of the votes, with the SP and BSP poised to give a good fight with a combined 55% of the votes. The Congress has thus, become the uncertain factor that the coalition could have done without in these polls.
These Lok Sabha seats are being contested by the BSP in the seat sharing arrangement. The Congress is being seen by the coalition leaders as working overtime to put a spoke in Mayawati’s wheels, more so as she has opposed an alliance that parted with more than 5-7 Lok sabha seats to the Congress party. She has also been at the forefront in criticising the Congress party, unlike other members of the coalition who have kept silent on the issue. Neither Ajit Singh nor Akhilesh Yadav have openly attacked the Congress party, though all have now finally admitted that there is no possibility of a larger alliance now.