New Delhi, May 3 (GCCurrentAffairs) There’s certainly all the necessary hype about polling in Uttar Pradesh – which has traditionally decided who will rule India.
Leave it to BJP poll strategists and supporters; there is also a lot of excitement about how well the party nominee and vocal leader Smriti Irani will be able to fight Congress president and three-term MP Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
However, BJP chief Amit Shah’s successful poll management in UP in 2014 – when the saffron party and its ally Apna Dal picked up as many as 73 seats remains one of the major electoral records.
Closer look at polling patterns in the crucial cow belt state suggest – all were in similar patterns and more happened in the past as well.
In 1998 – the so called ‘unthinkable’ had happened when BJP winners included Sanjay Singh in Amethi. Congress nominee Capt Satish Sharma was humbled in Amethi by a margin of 23, 270 votes.
Sanjay Singh has returned to Congress fold and is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.
In the united Uttar Pradesh which had 85 Lok Sabha seats – in 1998 polls essentially a pro-Vajpayee mood
had helped BJP pick up as many as 57 seats.
Some years back in 1991 – the BJP had won 45 parliamentary seats riding on the pro-Mandir movement.
All these elections have been witness to major saga when reputations and well known political stars – both in 1991 and 1998 – had fallen like the proverbial nine pins.
In a massive surprising setback in 1998, no less than BSP founder and supremo Kanshi Ram was defeated by a little known school teacher – also uniquely named Nakli Singh in Saharanpur. Sompal Singh Shastri of BJP had floored Ajit Singh in his citadel Baghpat.
In a major development, Ila Pant, wife of former Congress veteran K C Pant – who later joined BJP, had pipped Congress heavyweight Narain Dutt Tiwari.
Notably, the defeat for veteran Tiwari had come earlier too. In 1991 – Tiwari had lost in his home turf Nainital to his nearest BJP rival Balraj Pasi by a margin of 11,000 votes.
The same year, the Congress lost 11 of the 15 seats it had won in previous election in 1989 and its vote share nosedived from 31.77 per cent to 19.94.
The Congress revival in UP is awaited since then except in 2009 when the grand old party could manage to win 21 seats.
In 1991 – the Janata Dal was a force to reckon with but its vote share slipped from 35.9 per cent to 23.04 and it lost as many as 35 seats it had won previously and could manage only six ‘gains’.
The BJP sprang a surprise as the traditional vote bank of backwards were eroded and the saffron party could ‘wrest’ maximum number of reserved seats from Congress and Janata Dal. The BJP’s vote share automatically surged to 35.27 per cent from hardly 7.58 per cent.
In 1996, BJP’s vote share in UP was 33.44 per cent.
An old timer in UP politics recalls that the BJP also benefitted from three-way split in anti-BJP votes and the then Governor Romesh Bhandari’s controversial ‘attempt’ to remove Kalyan Singh as Chief Minister on the eve of polling for the second round.
In fact, statisticians later revealed that between two rounds – the ‘swing’ in favour of BJP increased from 1.9 per cent to 4.4.
In total, BJP registered 20 gains from its tally in 1996 in Uttar Pradesh including nine from Samajwadi Party and five from Congress. But the BJP also had lost as many as 15 sitting lawmakers making it clear that local anti-incumbency also prevailed at times.
The BJP winners also included Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who could humble Noor Bano of Congress in Rampur and Naqvi created a record by becoming first timer Muslim MP in Lok Sabha in saffron colours.
The achievement was quickly rewarded and he was made Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting as junior colleague to Sushma Swaraj.
From 1998 election statistics, it also became clear that Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party alone gave a tough fight to the BJP and its vote share climbed up to 28.70 per cent from 20.84 and its tally was 20.
The BSP, which had contested all 85 seats, could not put up an impressive show as its tally ended at mere four – a loss of two from the 1996 tally.