To win back Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) needed to first reclaim the ‘Yadav belt’, its core voters from Badaun to Kannauj.
However, in these 35 seats, which in a way are representative of the SP’s overall strength in the state, the Akhilesh Yadav-led party failed to make big strides in 2022.
Sample this: the SP had won 29 of the 35 seats in 2012, when it stormed to power with 224 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) then got just one seat. But in 2017, when the PM Narendra Modi-led wave of 325 seats brought the BJP alliance to power, the BJP dislodged the SP from its fortress with a role reversal and won 29 seats here, reducing the SP to only six seats. This time, the BJP has managed to keep its losses low here, still winning 23 seats, while the SP could only take its tally to 12 seats, far from a clean sweep.
This was despite Yadav himself contesting from Karhal seat in Mainpuri, in the hope of bringing the SP back in contention in the entire ‘Yadav belt’. Yadav won from Karhal, but the BJP still exacted revenge by winning two of the four seats in Mainpuri, which was one more than 2017.
His uncle, Shivpal Singh Yadav, contested again from Jaswantnagar seat in Etawah district, ensuring that the top two leaders of the SP were fighting from the adjoining seats in the ‘Yadav belt’, in contrast to the 2017 situation when both were at loggerheads and the party paid the price in this belt.
The patch-up with Shivpal now did not seem to work its magic, as Shivpal made his unhappiness public over being given just one seat (his own) to contest against a higher demand of 35 seats.
CLUES ON THE GROUND
News18, during its travels in the Yadav belt, sensed that support for the SP was not all-encompassing and the BJP continued to retain its hold in many areas due to the better law and order situation. This is also the potato belt of UP and chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s poll announcement to start the MSP procurement of potato after the elections had got good resonance in the area.
In the 2022 results, the BJP swept all three seats of Kannauj district, all four seats in Etah district and all four seats in Farukkahabad district — all these seats were won by the SP in 2012.
In 2017, the SP won the Kannauj city seat, which was also snatched by BJP this time with its IPS-turned-neta candidate Asim Arun.
The only ‘Yadav belt’ district where the SP made a comeback of sorts was Badaun, where it won four of the seven seats this time, against only one in 2017 and five seats in 2012.
The SP could pull back two seats from the BJP in Firozabad district against a clean sweep of four seats here by BJP in 2017 and the SP also managed to reclaim two seats in Auriya district from the BJP.
Overall, it was simply not enough. The SP was not able to dislodge the BJP from the ‘Yadav Belt’ that voted in phases 2 and 3, explaining why the SP alliance stopped at only 125 seats in UP.
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