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Mayawati + C Naidu + Nitish Kumar: How INDIA Bloc Could Have Beaten BJP

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The Bharatiya Janata Party has finished this Lok Sabha election with 240 seats – far fewer than the 370 many claimed it would win on its own, and well short, also, of the 303 it amassed in 2019. It has enough – thanks to its National Democratic Alliance’s 53 seats – to form the government for a third time, but it could have been different had Mayawati led her Bahujan Samaj Party into the INDIA bloc.

Across India the BJP lost 63 Lok Sabha seats between 2019 and 2024

A chunk came from UP – a state the BJP has dominated since the ‘Modi wave’ swept the state, and country, in 2014. In 2019 the party won 62 seats and nearly 50 per cent of the votes, while its ally, the Apna Dal (Sonelal), added two more. This time the BJP got 33 and its vote share fell to 41.3 per cent.

Mayawati Factor In UP Lok Sabha Election

The BJP’s final score in Uttar Pradesh could have been much worse had the Bahujan Samaj Party – which sources said had been courted by the INDIA group – decided to sign the dotted line.

The BSP contested 79 seats and finished with 9.4 per cent of the votes, but won zero seats.

The kicker, though, is that in 16 seats – all won by the BJP or its allies- the ex-Chief Minister’s party, finished with more votes than the winning margin. If she were part of the opposition some of those votes may have transferred and the BJP’s score could have dropped further, possibly by all 16.

The 16 seats in question are Akbarpur, Aligarh, Amroha, Bansgaon, Bhadohi, Bijnor, Deoria, Farrukhabad, Fatepur Sikri, Hardoi, Meerut, Mirzapur, Misrikh, Phulpur, Shahjahanpur, and Unnao.

Of these the BJP won 14 and the ADS got two.

In a few cases – like Bansgaon, Farrukhabad, and Phulpur – the winning margins were less than 5,000, while the unsuccessful BSP candidate got over 64,000, 45,000 and 82 votes, respectively.

In Meerut, the BJP candidate won by 10,585 seats while the BSP got 87,025.

In Bhadohi – where a Trinamool candidate was on the ballot backed by the SP cadre – the BJP won by 44,000 votes and the BSP candidate got over 1.55 lakh.

Losing these would have left the BJP with 224 seats and the party-led NDA – widely seen as propping up the incoming government – with only 277, just five above the majority mark.

Mayawati + ‘Kingmakers’ + INDIA = BJP Defeat?

It would also have propelled the INDIA bloc to 248 – not enough to claim victory but enough to underline the ‘kingmaker’ role assigned to incoming Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (United) of his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar.

The TDP won 16 seats and the JDU 12. Take those 28 away from the BJP coalition and 265 remains – not enough for Narendra Modi to be sworn in this weekend for a historic third straight term.

READ | BJP Short Of Majority, C Naidu, Nitish Kumar Dictate Terms

The BJP is aware of Mr Naidu and Nitish Kumar’s importance; Narendra Modi making special mention in his victory speech Tuesday is an indication, as were plans for them to accompany him when he called on President Droupadi Murmu to formally stake claim to government formation.

The delegation of top BJP leaders – Mr Modi, his right-hand man Amit Shah, and party boss JP Nadda – and opposition leaders like Mr Naidu and Nitish Kumar – was supposed to call on Ms Murmu at her Delhi home after a NDA huddle to review the election result and discuss the path ahead.

There was no meeting but sources confirmed the BJP has tied down, as much as it is possible to do so, the two ‘kingmakers’ by securing written letters of support. Mr Modi will now likely be sworn in as Prime Minister this weekend, becoming only the second three-time PM after Jawaharlal Nehru.

What INDIA Bloc Said

The opposition met in Delhi on Thursday amid speculation they will reach out to Mr Naidu and Nitish Kumar in an attempt to flip 28 seats. As discussed, this won’t be enough to stake claim to the government for itself, but it will pull the carpet from underneath the BJP’s feet.

Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters after the meeting the opposition will “take appropriate steps at the appropriate time to realise people’s desire not to be ruled by BJP”.

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 Mayawati’s BSP contested 79 seats in the UP Lok Sabha election and won zero, but a 9.3 per cent vote share, if it had allied with the opposition, could have created more instability in the widely-expected incoming BJP-led NDA coalition government.    

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