If UP Civic Poll Results Reflect the Nation’s Mood, It’s Good News For the Opposition

The real story of the party’s big loss in vote share lies in the bottom two tiers of positions that were up for grabs.

Amit Shah. Credit: PTI

Amit Shah. Credit: PTI

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has said the Uttar Pradesh (UP) civil poll results are a barometer of the nation’s mood. If this were true, then the nation’s mood clearly is to give the BJP far less votes as well as seats in future elections.

An examination of the votes cast in the three tiers of the urban governance bodies in UP roughly suggests that the BJP’s vote share may have dropped by a total of 10 to 12 percentage points from the 42% vote share it achieved in the UP assembly polls earlier this year.

Shah also indicated that the UP results will have its effect on the upcoming Gujarat elections and made an even more astonishing claim that the civic polls reflect a clear endorsement of demonetisation and the goods and services tax regime. Did Shah get carried away by the PR machine of his own party, which spun a narrative of a total “sweep” for the BJP based on the results of just the top tier (mayors for municipal corporations) – in which the BJP got 14 out of 16 seats?

In the bottom two tiers, comprising presidents for municipal councils and Nagar Panchayat Parishads, the BJP has lost considerable vote share when compared to the UP assembly polls. The bottom two tiers also have a much larger number of voters. If this pattern were to repeat in Gujarat, as Shah wishes, the BJP may emerge with egg on its face.

The BJP president therefore should fervently hope that the pattern of the UP civic polls doesn’t repeat in Gujarat.

Also read: BJP Wins Ayodhya But Suffers Heavy Losses in Ballot Voting Around Temple Town

For starters, the civic polls can hardly be called a sweep for the BJP – a picture that the most TV news channels painted immediately after the results started coming. Two broad brush numbers will establish this point. The BJP got less than 30% of the 652 posts of heads of urban bodies in all the tiers that went to the polls. The BJP got 184 out of 652 posts consisting of 16 mayors (top tier), 198 municipal council heads (second tier)  and Nagar Panchayat heads (438).

While the BJP did win over 85% of the top tier i.e. corporation heads, its record in the third tier is very poor. In the election to the heads of Nagar Panchayat, the independents lead the way by capturing 182 out of 438 posts. The BJP won 100 posts, the Samajwadi Party 83, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 45 and the Congress 17.

In the second tier, the BJP did emerge as the single largest party but with a much reduced vote share than the 42% it got in the UP assembly polls earlier this year.

More significantly, the BJP has faced heavy losses in the Tier-II and Tier-III civic bodies in western UP. The losses are palpable in Shamli, Bhagpat, Muzzafarnagar, Meerut. Strangely, the Hindu polarisation politics triggered by chief minister Yogi Adityanath starting his campaign from Ayodhya doesn’t seem to have had much effect. Remember, in western UP, the BJP had got about 44% of the votes in the assembly polls earlier this year. The BSP ended up bagging the mayor’s post in Meerut and Aligarh.

The vote share in Western UP may have dropped over 10 percentage points for the BJP compared to the assembly election figures. This is very significant considering that the farmers’ disenchantment with the BJP peaked in recent months in this middle peasant-dominated Jat belt. By one estimate, the BJP vote share in the tier 3 of western UP may have dropped to less than 25%, which is a huge loss.

Given these numbers, Shah can hardly claim that the UP civic polls are a big endorsement of the party in the backdrop of GST.

Indeed, if these statistics represent the national mood, as he claims, then the opposition may actually have cause to celebrate. But the BJP leadership seems to be basking in the lazy media narrative of a “total sweep” for the party in the civic polls. Chief minister Adityanath came to New Delhi and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emphasise his victory.

Modi may have acted his part for the cameras but numbers show the BJP has always dominated the top tier. The real story of their big loss in vote share lies in the bottom tiers.

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  • alok asthana

    Well brought out, Hadn’t caught on to this till I read it here.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    This was far from being the “clean sweep” as reported by much of the media. The complete results and the details thereof present a far different picture, one that is much less rosy for the BJP, as brought out so cogently by Mr Venu. Just goes to show how the craven media can spin any story to make it look favorable to this government.

  • S.N.Iyer

    UP doesn’t seem to be the best place for BJP to boast. After demonetisation, Modi declared during his electioneering there that the exercise was done to get at the money of the rich for the poor. The actial fact is the rich laundered their black money to white and the poor suffered the most. The figures of the civic elections in UP was in no way a sweep for the BJP. They managed to win 14 out of 16 mayoral posts in big cities but lost in elections everywhere else badly with about 28% . In fact in the CMs own constituency the BJP lost. BJP’s crooked way of reporting figures is now established as their only way of trying to fool the people

  • Amitabha Basu

    No matter how much the Sanghi spin-doctors may try to paint the UP election results as a ‘great sweep’, the reality is very much against the Sanghis at the lower levels. Also, wherever ballot papers were used, in spite of reports showing how slips stamped with the lotus beforehand were entered, the BJP lost to independents and others significantly. When EVM’s were used in the mayoral elections, with complaints of any button pressed registering for the lotus, the BJP could win.

  • sivaraman ias retd

    I as a former civil servant been apolitical.I have been a DM and Collector in the first ever BJP govt in the country with VK Saklecha as Dy CM from my district MANDSAUR.I never was asked to do anything inappropriate or illegal even when I arrested an important RSS leader and also a Rajya Sabha MP.Therefore I fail to understand the apparent hostility to this govt.while some seem to be happy with a person of Italian origin ruling the country with thousands of crores of the country having been lost in scandals.I served with Dr.Singh for 9 years as JT Secy with him as Secy and then as Revenue Secy initiating and implementing massive tax reforms.Dr. Singh was fair and honest to the core and did not interfere in the raids on an important industrial house close to the Congress or even on a CMs friend at that time a part of the coalition.The cases are seeing the light of day now after 2 decades.What I hear from officers I know is that there is no unfair demand from ministers of this govt.too.Yes too many chamchas are being appointed to various commissions to the complete neglect of south indians perhaps more competent and with unimpeachable integrity.
    The feeling I get is that this govt.does not want anybody from the south to hold any important post ss is the RBI which never appoints any well known south Indian chartered accountant or economist as a chairman of any of their committees.The results of the local body elections are no indication of a govt’s popularity as they are fought on local issues.UP as far as I know it is an unmanageable state and the sooner it is split into three or four the better it will be for the state and the country. Then the dynamics of politics will change.

  • man!l


    Total seats – 16
    Elec held – 16
    BJP Won – 14
    BJP Lost – 2

    Nagar Panchayat President through Ballet paper
    Total seats – 438
    Elec held – 437
    BJP Won – 100
    BJP Lost – 337

    Nagar Panchayat members*through *Ballet paper
    Total seats – 5434
    Elec held – 5390
    BJP Won – 662
    BJP Lost – 4728

    Muncipal Chairpersons through Ballet paper
    Total seats – 198
    Elec held – 195
    BJP Won – 69
    BJP Lost – 126

    Muncipal members through Ballet paper
    Total seats – 5261
    Elec held – 5217
    BJP Won – 914
    BJP Lost – 4303

    BJP swept polls wherever *EVM*s were used.
    BJP defeated very badly wherever *Ballet papers* were used.