Understanding the Defeat of the BSP in Uttar Pradesh: National Election 2014

AuthorSudha Pai
Published date01 December 2014
Date01 December 2014
Subject MatterArticles
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex 153
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat 153
Understanding the Defeat
of the BSP in Uttar Pradesh:
National Election 2014
Sudha Pai
The failure of the Bahujan Samaj Party to win a single Lok Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh in the
2014 general elections, the only state in India, where the party had earlier secured power, came as a
shocking surprise to many. Most analyses of the results claimed that the party lost because its core
support base among the Dalits, and particularly, among the Jatav community, had drifted away from
it. The article argues that while it is true that support to the Bahujan Samaj Party from its core constitu-
ency has shrunk in the 2014 elections, the party has managed to secure the allegiance of a majority
of the Jatavs, as also the Dalits. It further points out that the defeat of the Bahujan Samaj Party was
largely due to its failure to retain the support of those communities, other than the Dalits, who
had extended substantial support to it in the past, as well as due to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s
campaign strategy.
Bahujan Samaj Party, elections 2014, India, Uttar Pradesh, Dalits
The results of the 2014 national elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) present a complete departure from
electoral results in the state in recent decades. A surprising development has been the failure of the
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a well-established party with a distinct social base, which obtained a major-
ity in the assembly elections of 2007, to win a single Lok Sabha seat. The Samajwadi Party (SP), another
strong state-level party with a solid base among the other backward classes (OBCs) which, since the late
1990s, had experienced a constant turnover of power with the BSP and won a victory in the 2012 assem-
bly election, obtained only five seats, won by its leader Mulayam Singh and his family members. The
Congress party reached a historic low, gaining only the two family seats of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul
Gandhi. It is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), out of power in UP since the late 1990s, which obtained
71 of the 85 seats mopping up the Hindu vote, effectively decimating the Congress and penetrating the
Dalit and backward base of the BSP and the SP.
This article addresses the reasons for the poor performance of the BSP in the 2014 national elections.
At the same time, it grapples with a larger and more significant issue that has affected UP politics
namely, the electoral limitations faced by a single-identity party and its implications for the process of
Dalit mobilization. The BSP, as a party with a specific social base, has faced the dilemma of having both
Sudha Pai, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
E-mail: jnu.sudha@gmail.com
Studies in Indian Politics
2(2) 153–167
© 2014 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/2321023014551872

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