- In 2014, the BJP and its allies had won 72 of the state's 80 seats
- The big difference this time is the alliance
- The other big difference is the Priyanka Gandhi Vadra factor
The two coming phase of elections are likely to pose a bigger challenge for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the state that sends the maximum number of lawmakers to the Lok Sabha. Altogether, elections will be held on 27 seats in the coming phases - all in eastern Uttar Pradesh, that includes Varanasi, the seat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gorakhpur, the stronghold of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In 2014, the BJP and its allies had won 72 of the state's 80 seats. The sweep had continued in the assembly polls of 2017, where the BJP won 312 of the state's 403 seats. But the big difference this time is the alliance and going by votes in the assembly elections, these are areas where the BJP voteshare drops when the votes of the alliance are put together.
The other big difference is the Priyanka Gandhi Vadra factor. The younger sister of Rahul Gandhi had taken the long awaited plunge into active politics in February and put in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
People say over the last few months, she has made quite an impression and can increase the Congress votes by as much as 10 per cent.
But this, conversely, can play into the BJP's hands as the Congress votes will come from the anti-BJP pool, and can prove expensive for the alliance.
Last time around, the BJP had won 41 per cent votes, but it had translated into 85 per cent seats. But 41 per cent votes is not the textbook definition for what is called a wave. In 1977, a wave for Janata Party in the state had led the party to get 48 per cent votes. In 2015, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party had got 53 per cent of votes in the assembly elections in Delhi.
What got termed a Modi wave in 2015, was a landslide, where a party wins a high number of seats even with a vote share that's on the lower side.
Uttar Pradesh has more Dalits and Muslims than the rest of the country and more rural voters than urban.
But this time, the Scheduled Caste votes are leaning away from the BJP, towards the Congress and the Grand Alliance of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, and the Congress.
The Muslim vote will go also go to the alliance and the Congress.
The BJP enjoys support among the young voters aged between 18 and 25, the women and the Other Backward Castes, or the OBC.
The coming together of the alliance is also likely to create a backlash among the upper castes, Field trip estimates indicate that they are likely to vote for the BJP.
Uttar Pradesh has nine bellwether seats that have always managed to pick the winner. There is also its converse, two seats that never did.
The last phase of the election will be held on May 19. The counting of votes will be held on May 23.
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