Can the Samajwadi Party (SP) take on the BJP in 2024?

By Manjunath K. Shresthi
September 12, 2023


In political circles, it’s often quoted by journalists, psephologists and political observers that the road to New Delhi goes via Uttar Pradesh (UP). The quote signifies the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in Parliament. Post 2014 general elections, the BJP has re-written and changed all political rules and calculations. In 2014, BJP won 71 Lok Sabha seats in the large state and got 42.63% of the vote share. The combined parties of Samajwadi Party (SP) + Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Indian National Congress (INC) got 22.35%, 19.77% and 7.53% respectively. The SP won 5 seats, BSP none and Congress won two Lok Sabha seats. The state’s assembly has a total strength of 403 seats; and in 2017 assembly polls, the BJP won 312 seats, SP 47 seats and the Congress 07 seats respectively. Post 2014, the BJP has been sweeping both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls regularly.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BSP, SP and RLD formed an electoral alliance (Mahagathbandan) to take on the formidable BJP. The BJP with its regional ally won 64 Lok Sabha seats; and the Mahagathbandan won 15 seats (BSP 10 and SP in 5 Lok Sabha seats respectively), the Rashtriya Lok Dal could not open its account and the Congress party retained the sole Raibareilly seat. In the 2022 assembly polls, the BJP won 255 seats, SP 111 seats and Congress with a mere two seats. In the assembly polls, the SP, gave a tough fight to the saffron party and increased its total number of seats won. But it was never enough to defeat the BJP, as it takes elections more seriously than governance. The party has successfully mastered the art of trouncing its political opponents. The saffron party pitches its double engine government, with BJP in the centre and also in the state. This model helps in taking the state forward on the path of greater progress and development. Catchy slogans like ‘Modi in Delhi and Yogi in UP’, are a hit with the voters and so the party is firmly placed in north India’s biggest state.

Post the conclusion of the two-day G20 international summit in the national capital New Delhi, the BJP’s next political posturing will be the special Parliament session starting from September 18-22. The upcoming session was announced during the INDIA Alliance’s third meeting which met for two days in Mumbai between August 31- September 1. Rumours heard, that the general elections would be announced before the due date in 2024? The BJP, has cards up its sleeves like the’ One Nation, One Election’ and renaming India to Bharat. The agenda is not clear as to what’s to be discussed in the session? The BJP will now showcase to the public as to how Bharat has emerged on the international stage, and now are a force to be reckoned with. Prime Minister Modi is the party’s election winning mascot and delivering the desired electoral results.

Amidst all this, the I.N.D.I.A. Alliance has also not been quiet, the Samajwadi Party (SP) won the Ghosi by polls and made headlines like, ‘Voters reject political turncoats’. As per past electoral trends from Uttar Pradesh, the results makes it clear that the SP is the only party with a visible Opposition. In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party was not able to cross the five seats mark of the total 80 seats. If the INDIA Alliance has to take on the BJP, it’s the responsibility of Akhilesh Yadav, to win maximum number of seats for his Samajwadi Party (SP). And what trick will he be able to pull in the days ahead to take on the BJP’s colossal well oiled electoral machinery? Can the SP’s 2022 slogan change the country’s politics, “Nahi hawa hai, nayi sapa hai”, translated as “in the fresh breeze of air, it’s a different SP”. Can Akhilesh Yadav’s party be the breath of fresh air and challenge the severe cold winds currently blowing in the country?

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