Samajwadi Party consolation prize in UP elections: postal ballot edge over victor BJP

While the ruling BJP romped home in the UP Assembly elections by winning 273 out of the total 403 seats, the principal challenger SP garnered more postal votes than the former in the polls.

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An analysis of postal ballots cast in UP’s 403 constituencies show that the SP-led alliance topped the contenders in garnering them in 311 seats. The BJP-led alliance, on the other hand, got more postal votes than its rivals in 90 constituencies.

The BJP had a smooth sailing in the polls, winning 255 seats with its ally Apna Dal(S) winning 12 and another ally Nishad party getting 6 seats. A distant runner-up, the SP won 111 seats, while its allies, RLD and SBSP, got 8 and 6 seats, respectively.

Out of the total nearly 4.42 lakh postal votes cast in the UP elections, the SP alliance won a majority of these ballots, which are counted in the initial round of vote-counting. While the SP alliance garnered altogether 2.25 lakh postal ballot votes, the BJP alliance got 1.48 lakh such votes.

After his party’s defeat, SP president Akhilesh Yadav sought to highlight his party’s postal vote advantage, tweeting that “The SP-Alliance got 51.5% votes in the postal ballot and according to that, the victory of the SP-Alliance in 304 seats is telling the truth of the election.” He also thanked every “true” government employee, teacher and other voter who exercised their postal franchise in favour of his alliance.

Dismissing Akhilesh’s charge, BJP spokesperson Harish Chandra Srivastava said, “Opposition’s allegation is ridiculous…they never accept the mandate given by people. Such a voting trend is seen also at booth level. The winner of any constituency loses in certain booths but emerges victorious by getting maximum votes in other polling booths.”

In the elections, postal ballots were allowed to be used by voters flagged as Persons with Disabilities (PwD), aged above 80 years, employed in notified essential services, certified Covid positive/suspect persons, and those deployed in security forces or for election-related duty.

“As majority of the voters in these categories are from government, it seems that SP’s poll promise of restoring old pension in government jobs worked in their favour. After SP promised this in its manifesto, the BSP too made the same promise. But voters trusted SP largely,” said an SP leader.

A BJP leader said, “Certainly, old pension scheme and other promises related to jobs and freebies worked in SP’s favour. But that does not mean that SP should claim a win merely on postal ballot votes. In past elections too, it has been seen that winning candidate on any seat had got less postal votes in comparison to nominees who finished second or third.”

A phase-wise analysis of postal votes polled in the UP elections shows that the BJP candidates topped their opponents in getting such ballots in 51 seats in the first phase, which saw the party emerging as the winner in 46 of 58 seats. The SP-RLD got more postal votes than the BJP in 7 seats in this phase, even as they won 12 seats.

But from the second phase onwards, the SP alliance took the lead in garnering postal ballots. Out of 55 seats at stake in the second phase, the SP alliance got more postal votes than the incumbent alliance in 37 seats, although it could finally win only 24 seats. The BJP alliance, which had a postal ballot lead in 18 seats, finished as the winner in 31 seats in the final tally.

In the third phase, the BJP alliance beat the SP alliance in terms of getting votes by post in 13 seats, while the latter topped in 46 seats in this regard. The ruling alliance got the postal ballot edge over its rivals only in 1 seat in the fourth phase, 2 seats each in the fifth and the sixth phases, and in 3 seats in the seventh phase of polls. The 3 seats in the seventh phase where the BJP topped in bagging postal ballots include Varanasi North, Varanasi South and Varanasi Cantonment seats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi parliamentary constituency, where the PM had led a road show in support of the BJP candidates.

In the final results, the BJP alliance won 44 seats as against the SP coalition’s 15 in the third phase. It won 49 seats against the SP alliance’s 10 in the fourth phase and 37 seats against the latter’s 21 seats in the fifth phase. The incumbent camp got 39 seats as compared to the main Opposition’s 16 in the sixth phase. Both the alliances won 27 seats each in the seventh phase of elections.

In Sikandarpur seat, both the BJP and the SP got 224 postal ballots, even as the SP finally won the seat with a margin of 11,855 votes.

The Congress party, which managed to win only 2 seats, topped the fray there on postal ballot count too. The BSP won only 1 seat, Rasra, but it got lesser postal votes there than the loser SP.

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