More than the SC votes, BJP seems to have suffered loss from one major voting flock - the non-Yadav OBC voters.
Samajwadi Party’s poll pact with Mayawati’s BSP is being touted as the main reason for its huge victory in Uttar Pradesh by-elections 2018. It is believed that BSP’s loyal Dalit votes have been transferred to Samajwadi Party. However, there are more aspects associated with the election outcome. More than the SC votes, BJP seems to have suffered loss from one major voting flock – the non-Yadav OBC voters. Yadavs, who form nine per cent of total votes, were believed to have voted for the SP in 2017 Assembly polls while other OBC castes including Kurmis, Koeris, Lodhs, Telis, Kumahars and Kahars had supported the BJP.
OBCs account for 45 per cent of total votes. In 2017, BJP’s success was largely attributed to the support it received from this community. In what was seen as a well orchestrated strategy, BJP had fielded one-third of its candidate from non-Yadav OBCs. After the results, Keshav Prasad Maurya, a candidate who hails from the community, was appointed as the deputy chief minister.
In Bihar too, where the saffron party suffered defeat in the 2015 Assembly elections, it tried to reach out to the non-Yadav community by forging an alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). However, the strategy didn’t work.
The SP seems to have understood this well. This time, both winning Samajwadi Party candidates Praveen Nishad (Gorakhpur) and Nagendra Pratap Patel (Phulpur) came from non-Yadav OBC communities. In Phulpur, both SP and BSP fielded a Kurmi (a peasant caste) candidate. However, it seems that voters chose to go with the SP candidate this time.
In Gorakhpur, where BJP was banking on Adityanath’s popularity and fielded an upper caste candidate, it suffered shock drubbing from SP’s Praveen Nishad, again an OBC candidate from Nishad (fisherman) community. The community is spread widely across the riverine regions of Uttar Pradesh and believed to have voted for BJP during the 2017 Assembly elections. The non-OBC voters form a strong 36 per cent electorate.
For SP, coming back of Akhilesh Yadav’s very ‘own’ non-Yadav OBCs votes is a big boost before elections. On the other hand, it is an alarm bell for the BJP if it wants to replicate the results of 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 Vidhan Sabha in next General Elections.