If elections in UP always matter more than any other given the unmatchable number of seats of this nearly 200 million-strong state, the stakes were especially high this time for other reasons. It was probably the last electoral fight for Mulayam Singh Yadav and a chance to ensure his succession. For Mayawati, it was a real opportunity to entrench her Dalit party after completing a full term on her own. The BJP—with only seven NDA members left around it—had to prove that it could stage a convincing comeback in the crucible of the Hindu civilisation two years before the Lok Sabha elections. And for the Congress, the UP elections were supposed to validate Rahul Gandhi’s long-term transformative political vision, and to pave the way towards prime ministership.
These parties may yet dare to eke out some redemptive elements from the results. But in vain— save, of course, for the SP. The BSP hoped to remain top dog, but has lost an unprecedentedly large number of seats. The BJP will remain on the fringe—and can only feel relieved about not having to debate over the divisive issue of another alliance with the BSP. And if the Congress has increased its number of seats, it remains fourth anyway.