Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Sunday won 23 out of 28 contested seats in the Uttar Pradesh legislative council elections, giving the ruling party a major boost ahead of assembly election next year.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the SP’s arch-rival, won two seats and the Congress party won one—Rae Bareli, the Lok Sabha constituency of party president Sonia Gandhi.
The two remaining seats went to independent candidates.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which swept the state in the 2014 general election by winning 71 of 80 seats, drew a blank in the election to the state’s upper house, which was held on 3 March.
Though the Election Commission had notified polling for 35 seats of the legislative council on 8 February, seven candidates of the ruling SP were elected unopposed, bringing the number of contested seats to 28.
The SP’s national general secretary, Ram Gopal Yadav, attributed the thumping victory to the development agenda of his party, which he said has been accepted by the people of Uttar Pradesh.
“The people of the state are with us and we will win 2017 assembly polls,” he said.
The BJP, however, blamed its loss on alleged unfair means used by the ruling party.
“The elections were won by the ruling party with money and muscle power. These were not direct elections and were managed by the ruling party,” said BJP spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
Analysts said that any local body election is an indicator of a political party’s popularity in rural areas and that the SP’s victory shows the party’s strong hold over the rural areas of the state.
“Usually, the elections which are held after the incumbent party has completed more than a year in power are not in the party’s favour. However, the legislative council election results have proven otherwise for SP. The party has been in power for four years and this is a clear indication of the popularity of SP, but more importantly it shows that the social base of the party is intact,” said Ramesh Dixit, a Lucknow-based political analyst.
On the performance of the BSP—the main opposition party in the state—Dixit said, “BSP has always had the political strategy of not investing their resources in elections other than state assembly elections or the general elections. They did not fight this election seriously so it won’t affect them much.”
“The results indicate a decline in BJP’s popularity and a rejection of their communal politics. This defeat will only double their efforts to polarize votes on communal lines as they have significantly lost their voter base in the state,” said Dixit.