The BJP reigned supreme on nearly 70 per cent constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh despite losing 15 seats in the 2022 assembly polls, even as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) showed a rise in the region.
While the BJP completely swept some districts like Agra, Mathura, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar, the Opposition alliance too scored 100 per cent in Shamli and Moradabad, and put up a good show in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut.
In the 2017 assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had swept over 300 of the 403 seats across Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country. The party won 255 seats this year, while the SP with its allies notched up victory on 125 seats of the state, nearly double from its last electoral outing.
In the 126 seats across 24 districts of western Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had won 100 (or 79 per cent) of the seats in 2017. This time, its tally stood at 85 (or 67 per cent).
The SP and the RLD together won 41 (or 32 per cent) of the 126 seats in the region. The Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD, which was reduced to a single seat in the 2017 polls, fought on 33 seats this time and won eight of them.
The BJP lost all three seats in Shamli district, including a sitting minister from Thana Bhawan, four of the seven seats in Meerut, and four of the six seats in Muzaffarnagar – all three are Jat-dominated districts. It also lost all six seats in Moradabad, three of the four seats in both Rampur and Sambhal districts.
The minister's defeat came even as another minister in Ghaziabad won by a margin of over 1 lakh votes and the BJP managed to fully sweep districts like Agra, Mathura, Aligarh -- all three have a sizeable Jat population, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar, negating the idea that the recent farmers' agitation had an impact across western Uttar Pradesh, according to poll observers.
The Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress and others failed to get even a single seat in the region.
There is no official demarcation of what constitutes western Uttar Pradesh. Political parties have different organisational structures and classifications for the region. However, 126 assembly constituencies in 24 districts that lie west of Etawah are generally taken to be western Uttar Pradesh.
These 24 districts are Agra, Mathura, Aligarh, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Hapur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly, Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, Saharanpur, Sambhal, Shahjahanpur, Hathras, Etah, Kasganj and Firozabad.
Elections to these seats took place during the first three phases of the seven-round elections in the state.
The BJP's western Uttar Pradesh president Mohit Beniwal said voters have reposed their faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as this was an election to “decide the future of the country”.
“There was development in the state, law and order has improved since 2017. PM Modi's central schemes and CM Adityanath's schemes reached the people effectively. People voted for that, while the Opposition tried to propagate misinformation and create instability,” Beniwal told PTI.
He was of the opinion the party got votes from across sectors, including women, youth and farmers. He also credited the party leaders for strengthening the organisation's structure from top till the grassroots.
On the BJP's tally coming down to 85 in 2022 from 100 in 2017 and defeat of a minister, he said the party candidates lost some seats with close margin, but overall, the BJP had got the state's popular mandate.
RLD national spokesperson Sandeep Chaudhary expressed satisfaction over his party's performance after its tally went up to eight seats from just one in 2017 and said the alliance has been successful to a great extent in its objective of bridging the communal divide that had emerged after the 2013 riots in western Uttar Pradesh.
“We fell slightly short in conveying our message to the people. Maybe, if we had got some more time to do that, the election results would have been much better. However, our combined tally has improved this time and the BJP has lost some seats…shows how we performed. We will work hard in future,” Chaudhary told PTI.
On rival BSP getting no seat in western Uttar Pradesh, the RLD spokesperson alleged that Mayawati was being blackmailed and working as the BJP's “puppet” since demonetisation in 2016.
“A perception was built that the BSP sells its tickets but the BJP decided the ticket distribution of the BSP in a bid to stop the Samajwadi Party from winning,” he claimed.
According to observers of regional electoral politics, the perception of improved law and order in western Uttar Pradesh, distribution of free ration, consistent and timely disbursement of pensions and allowances directly into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts appears to have worked in favour of the BJP.
The anti-BJP sentiment in some parts due to other issues like unemployment, inflation and caste dynamics helped the Opposition parties notch up almost the double the seats in the region in 2022 as compared to the 2017 state polls.