NEW DELHI: Just basic arithmetic completely contradicts the exit polls giving a majority of seats in Uttar Pradesh to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Even at the height of Narendra Modi’s popularity in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where the BJP+ won 73 seats in UP, 43 of the 80 constituencies registered a higher combined vote share for the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party if taken together.

This, incidentally was amongst the lowest vote share that the two regional parties had secured with the BSP not even getting a single seat in the Lok Sabha. The first break in this came when the BSP and SP came together and jointly contested bypolls in Kairana, Phulpur and Gorakhpur and won all three Lok Sabha seats. This despite the fact that Gorakhpur was the home constituency of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In these elections the BSP and SP took the coalition further to forge the gathbandhan that acquired a momentum of its own, and raced through the state with vigour. The votes of the two parties came together as Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav addressed huge rallies across the state leading observers to predict a 50+ tally for the gathbandhan.

The exit polls confounded with the prediction of 50 to 65 seats for the BJP in UP. This, despite the fact that sheer arithmetic of a combined BSP and SP vote share places 43 Lok Sabha seats in the gathbandhan bag. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav came together to emerge as the single largest bloc in the state, and not to merely close the gap between themselves and the ruling BJP.

An analysis of U.P. constituencies reveals that the SP and BSP’s combined vote share was more than that of the BJP in 43 of the 80 parliamentary seats in the state. So, did the Mahagathbandhan fail to make any impact? Simple arithmetics runs counter to the trend being reflected in the exit polls. Interestingly Lok Sabha seats like Gorakhpur that the coalition had wrested from the BJP in the byelection, do not even reflect a high combined percentage of votes.

In 2014 Modi was a new candidate, with a strong image, and promises of development that enthused the voters to give him and his party the majority of seats in UP as well. In 2019, joblessness, cattle crisis, agrarian distress, atrocities on Dalits and Muslims, encounter deaths had all eaten into the goodwill with the coalition gaining ground.

Below is a list of constituencies, where the Mahagathbandhan’s aggregate share of votes was more than that of the BJP in 2014. The table also marks the phases during which the below-mentioned constituencies voted in 2019.