Amidst the exit poll frenzy where most newsrooms fell over themselves to show who can bow the lowest to their chosen king, few journalists are sticking their necks out and calling out the figures as a farce. One of them is Punya Prasoon Bajpai who is the only one to say that the BJP’s numbers will crash significantly and the Congress is experiencing a resurgence.
BJP’s Numbers to Nosedive
Bajpai’s over-all predictions say that though the BJP may end up as the single largest party, their numbers could be reduced to anywhere between 132-140 seats, down from their tally of 282 in 2014. Bajpai predicts that the Congress has bounced back from a virual decimation will likely get a hundred odd seats. Bajpai also says that the Mahagathbandhan is here to stay and will be a permanent phenomenon in the UP. The alliance between Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav will get 50+ seats. Regional satraps Mamata Banerjee and Stalin could both get 35+ seats each while Navin Patnaik could get 18+ seats.
Following is Bajpai’s careful, calculated and in-depth analysis of UP seats that went to polls on May 19. These indicate how the Mahagathbandhan’s star is on the rise.
UP Seats likely to go to the Mahagathbandhan:
Gorakhpur: According to Bajpai, rural areas of this constituency have voted for the Mahagathbandhan candidate Ram Bhau Nishad is being seen as a uniting factor, who brought together Muslims, Dalits and members of castes like the Nishads and others. BJP’s Ravi Kishen, who was expected to do little more than to play stand in for UP CM Adityanath who vacated this seat when he became Chief Minister, does not have a wwinning record. In fact, when he had fought previously on a Congress ticket, Kishen had lost. Was he picked purposely as he lacked the spark to outshine Adityanath who wants to reign supreme in his fiefdom? Bajpayee gives Gorakhpur to the Mahagathbandhan.
Gazhipur: Though BJP’s IIT educated Manoj Sinha has done tremendous work to bring about infrastructural development in this region, the sheer might of the Yadav-Muslim vote will obliterate his chances of winning. However, the Kushwaha vote could go to the Congress candidate and this might divide the vote in favour of the BJP. BSP’s Afzal Ansari (brother of Mukhtar Ansari) appears strong.
Other Seats likely to go to the Mahagathbandan include Devraiya, Basgaon and Ballia.
Seats likely to be won by the INC:
Kushinagar: INC’s RPN Singh, a scion of the erstwhile royal family has a good chance at victory here according to Bajpayee, because the BJP changed their candidate to Vijay Dubey at the eleventh hour. Mahagathbandhan’s Nathani Kushwaha is unlikely to do much damage to the INC’s chances here.
Seats where it is too close to call:
Salimpur: Here it is a Kushwaha vs Kushwaha battle. The Kushwaha’s are an electorally significant caste with large numbers in this region. BJP’s Ravindra Kushwaha had won the last time by a huge margin of over 2 lakh votes. But the Mahagathmandhan candidate RS Kushwaha also belongs to the same community. If the vote gets split between the MGB and INC’s RK Mishra, then BJP might win this constituency.
Mirzapur: While BJP’s Anupriya Patel is a strong contender, she can only win if the vote splits between the Mahagathbandhan’s Ramcharit Nishad and the INC’s Laliteshpati Tripathi. But if the vote doesn’t split, Nishad is likely to emerge winner.
Robertsganj: All contenders are outsiders, in the sense that they are all from Mirzapur and not Robertsganj that is located in the heart of the Sonbhadra forest region. Pakodilal Kol of the Apna Dal (a BJP ally) is a strong player, but the Samajwadi Party’s Bhai Lal Kol is equally strong. If the vote splits between the two Kol’s it benefits the INC’s Bhagwati Chaudhry.
Other seats too close to call include Maharajganj (near the Nepal border) and Chandauli.
The Curious Case of Varanasi:
According to Bajpai, Modi’s victory in Varanasi should not be a foregone conclusion. One shouldn’t discount the previous arithmetic, when Kejriwal amassed a huge number of votes despite standing against Modi. Bajpai is not discounting the possibility of INC’s Ajay Rai bettering Kejriwal’s tally. He also warns against writing off the unifying skills of Priyanka Gandhi and says that the battle of Benaras is a silent but strong electoral battle.
Punya Prasoon Bajpai’s full analysis may be viewed here.