INDIA sees Ghosi win as a template to take on BJP

| | Lucknow
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INDIA sees Ghosi win as a template to take on BJP

Tuesday, 12 September 2023 | PNS | Lucknow

The victory of Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh in the Ghosi assembly bypoll is being projected by the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) as the much needed template for the opposition alliance to take on the BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The SP also is confident that the victory will be a turning point in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The opposition, to buttress their claims, refer to the 45-year-old by-election to Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat in 1978 in which Congress candidate Mohsina Kidwai registered a victory a year after the crushing defeat of the Congress in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections. The Azamgarh bypoll results had made a huge contribution in reviving the electoral fortunes of the Congress in north India.

The SP claims that the victory of its candidate, Sudhakar Singh, in Ghosi bypoll against the Bharatiya Janata Party has generated excitement among the constituents of the opposition bloc INDIA in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Political analysts, however, are skeptical to the claims of the INDIA bloc and have termed their confidence as ‘gloating’. They are of the view that the SP and the Congress, the most active INDIA bloc members in Uttar Pradesh, will have a long way to go to take on the BJP in the state.

They pointed out that despite the alliance of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the combine could win only 15 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats and RLD drew a blank.

In the 2022 UP assembly polls, the SP secured 32.1 per cent votes against the BJP’s 41.29 per cent. The Congress secured barely 2.33 per cent votes, which is insignificant in a populous state like UP. However, the vote share of the SP went up sharply in comparison to the 2017 elections when the Akhilesh Yadav-led party had secured only 21.8 per cent votes and was reduced to 47 seats. The SP’s seats also went up to 111 in 2022.

On the other hand, the BJP’s vote share remained almost the same in 2017 and 2022 but its seats in the assembly were reduced substantially. In the 2022 UP assembly elections, the BJP won 255 seats against 312 in 2017. Thus, the combined vote shares of the Congress and the SP would not have made any difference against the BJP in the 2022 polls.

The analysts point out that the bypoll results of Ghosi assembly seat have exposed the vulnerability of small caste-based parties which have been operating in the sub-regions of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The leaders of numerically small castes, Dara Singh Chauhan and Om Prakash Rajbhar who were believed to have had a sway over their respective Lonia and Bhar castes, have failed to deliver to desired level during the by-election. Dara Singh Chauhan, the BJP candidate from the Lonia caste and Rajbhar, an ally of the BJP, were with the SP in the 2022 UP assembly polls and both recently switched over to the BJP. The two leaders had hardly made a difference to the prospects of the SP in the 2022 polls.

Another noticeable point is the increasingly dwindling clout of BSP. The party was reduced to a single seat in the UP assembly and secured only 12.88 per cent votes in 2022 – an all-time low vote share of the party in the last 30 years.

Despite Ghosi having a significant Dalit population, the SP candidate secured about 58 per cent votes against his rival in the bypoll, suggesting that it did secure the Dalit votes too.

“INDIA bloc has a long way to go. There still exists a big gap in the vote shares of the BJP and INDIA bloc. INDIA bloc can ill-afford to be complacent on the basis of some recent victories in UP and some other states,” said a SP leader.

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