‘UP Ke Ladke’ Deliver A Big Blow To Saffron Party In Hindi Heartland

The rise of an opposition which was written off by the ruling dispensation has led to BJP losing several key seats on their own turf.

(Photo by Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images)
A tattoo of Akhilesh Yadav is seen on the chest of a Samajwadi Party Supporter celebrating after counting of votes began for India's general election, at the Samajwadi Party Office on June 04, 2024 in Lucknow, (Photo by Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images)

The Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh has delivered a shock result to the Bharatiya Janata Party as the Akhilesh Yadav-led INDIA Bloc in UP reduced the saffron party to almost half its size. The Samajwadi Party has scripted history by winning its most ever seats, 37, the previous best being 36 in 2004. The Congress party, which was in alliance with SP secured six seats, while BJP went from 62 in 2019 to 33 this time.

BJP's loss in eastern Uttar Pradesh was significant despite Gorakhpur and Varanasi and surrounding Purvanchal constituencies being Yogi and Modi’s areas of influence.

With Uttar Pradesh proving to be the most expensive state for the BJP, CM Yogi Adityanath’s leadership is under question. Party insiders say the CM had no power over the choice of candidate selection for the elections, something which has gone terribly wrong for the party. 

The rise of an opposition which was written off by the ruling dispensation has led to BJP losing several key seats on their own turf. The Modi-Yogi factor failed to woo voters, Smriti Irani in Amethi, Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur, Ajay Mishra Teni in Kheri are some of the star candidates who suffered major losses at the hands of first time Lok Sabha candidates.

The Congress party which had been reduced to a single seat in 2019, improved its tally winning six seats. Of these Raebareli by Rahul Gandhi and Amethi by Kishori Lal Sharma were won by a margin of 3.9 lakh and 1.67 lakh votes respectively.

The Ram Mandir “wave” which the BJP had hoped would create ripples within voters seemed to be absent, with the party facing rejection even by the people of Ayodhya (Faizabad), the very land where the Ram Mandir stands. Ayodhya was won by SP candidate Awadhesh Prasad, a dalit man fighting on a non-reserved seat.

Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav’s candidate management has been termed as a masterstroke with it aligning with his Picchda Dalit Alpasankhyak (PDA) pitch. The party which has in the past been alleged of favouring Yadavs and Muslims has tried to show its inclusiveness through its diverse candidate selection.

This time, only five members of Akhilesh Yadav’s family were given tickets in UP- his wife Dimple Yadav from Mainpuri, himself from Kannauj and his cousins Aditya Yadav from Budaun, Akshaya Yadav from Firozabad and Dharmendra Yadav from Azamgarh- all of which have been won.

A range of diverse candidates were given tickets including women candidates, Muslim candidates, Dalit candidates, non-Yadav OBC candidates. Several young and first-time candidates were also given tickets. Two of SP’s winners- Pushpendra Saroj from Kaushambi and Priya Saroj from Machhlishahr are among the youngest MPs at 25. The SP leader was also praised for placing scheduled caste candidates on two seats of Faizabad and Meerut. One on the land where Ram Mandir stands and the other against BJP candidate Arun Govil who used to play Ram on television.

Uttar Pradesh which has been a stronghold of the saffron party seems to be slipping out of its hand with even Yogi Adityanath factor not working this time. The public which had in previous Lok Sabha and state elections subscribed to the BJP’s hindutva ideology seems to have voted on the issues of unemployment, development and rising prices this time. Distress among farmers largely owing to the issue of stray cattle has pushed many to the brink of survival. 

A recurring sentiment echoing across the constituencies of Uttar Pradesh was the call to "protect the constitution.". A narrative popularised by the opposition which resonated with the marginalised. Dalits, OBCs and Muslims seemed to have formed the major voter base for the Samajwadi Party.

The Samajwadi party which had managed to secure only 5 seats in both 2014 and 2019 has emerged as the third largest party in 2024 Lok Sabha elections.  The socialist party’s vote share percentage also witnessed a dramatic increase from 18.11 per cent to 33.59 per cent. This came at the expense of the Bahujan Samaj Party which failed to secure even a single seat in the state. It’s vote share decreased from 19.43 per cent to 9.4 per cent.

The Samjwadi Party’s unprecedented gains in the northern state has taken the INDIA bloc’s total tally to 232 and in turn kept the BJP way below the 272 mark.