New Delhi: Almost half of the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates in the recently-concluded civic polls in Uttar Pradesh lost their deposits. According to a Times of India report, in the 652 urban local bodies, which include 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 488 municipal panchayats, the party lost its deposit in 3656 seats and won in 2366.
While the BJP performed much better than the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and other regional parties, and emerged at the top, the perception that it won with a landslide is misleading if the conclusions drawn in the TOI report are taken into account.
Across all the three-tiers of civic bodies, the BJP secured 30.8% votes, with it scoring only 16% and 11.1% in the municipal councils and the municipal panchayats respectively.
The report says that BJP had fielded 8038 of the 12,644 seats but 45% of its candidates were unable to secure their deposits. While it performed its best in the 18 municipal corporations, winning 16 of the 18 Mayor’s positions, it did its worst in the Nagar panchayats, where independent candidates won the maximum seats.
“Indeed, at the nagar panchayat member level, while 664 of its candidates won, more than twice as many, 1,462 to be precise, lost their deposits,” said the report. adding that the party ended up with only 16% and 11% vote shares at the bottom two tiers of the civic bodies respectively.
It also added that even at the top-tier, municipal corporations, the BJP, despite winning around 85% of seats, registered a significant drop in its vote share.
“Incidentally, even in the mayoral contests in 16 big cities, the 41% vote share garnered by the BJP represents a significant drop from the levels of about 48.5% recorded in these Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014,” the report said.
In an earlier article, The Wire had pointed out that BJP’s vote share may have dipped by around 10-12 percentage points from its 42% vote share in the assembly elections earlier this year. The BJP registered maximum losses in western UP – comprising districts like Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Bhagpat – where its sustained Hindu polarisation politics since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots had earned it unprecedented electoral foothold. This primarily sugarcane farming-driven region has seen a number of peasant agitations ever since the Yogi Adityanath government has come to power.
The report shows that BJP, despite finishing first, performed its best in elections for heads of the municipal bodies and not that well when it came to securing votes for members of the respective bodies. For example, for the position of a mayor in corporations, the BJP got 41.4% as against 27.1% for members of these corporations.
Similarly, it got 28.6% votes for municipal council chairmen’s positions but only 16% in elections for council members. For Nagar Panchayat chairmen, its vote share was 19.8% but only 11.1% for panchayat members.
The discrepancy in BJP vote shares for different posts is quite stark but the TOI report also states that the losses of BSP, SP, and the Congress is much higher in comparison to the BJP. “The proportion of candidates who lost deposits was even higher for SP, BSP and Congress at 54%, 66% and 75% respectively,” it said.
The report, however, adds a caveat to its analysis and said that a probable reason the BJP may have performed poorly in the bottom two tiers of the civic bodies could be that it contested only two-thirds of the seats at these levels.
Despite this, the losses that the saffron party incurred in the civic polls goes against the party chief Amit Shah’s declaration that the victory of the party in UP civic polls reflects the national political mood and a thumbs up for demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, against which a large section of Indian citizens have been protesting.