As exit polls predict a BJP win in UP, 'bhatija' Akhilesh Yadav signals willingness to tie-up with 'bua' Mayawati

This was a closely fought triangular contest between the SP-Congress, BJP and the BSP. The likeliest outcome is a hung assembly.

Within less than 48 hours, we will know which party has won the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. The results of assembly elections in five states- UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be announced on March 11. However, the focus is on the election results of the largest state in the country which all parties want to win.

The results of UP elections is a make or break factor for many including- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.

Four exit polls conducted on the people’s mandate in the country’s largest legislative Assembly (403 seats) have predicted huge gains for the BJP in UP, but even it will fall short of a clear majority.

Times Now-VMR exit poll points to a possible clear majority in favour of BJP with 190-210 seats. The poll sees the SP-Congress alliance trail with 110-130 seats, while the Mayawati-led BSP gets 57-74 seats. Others to secure eight seats.

According to the MRC-NewsX exit poll data, BJP is leading on 185 seats out of 403. SP-Congress in second with 120, BSP with 90 and Others with eight.

Also read: Uttar Pradesh assembly election 2017 exit poll: NewsX-MRC predicts BJP would win 185 seats, SP-Congress at 120

India News-MRC survey highlights that the BJP will secure 188 seats, while SP-Congress alliance will get 120. It sees BSP in third with 90 seats.

While the ABP News-Lokniti exit poll data indicated that the BJP will secure in between 164-176 seats, SP-Congress to secure 156-169 seats and BSP to get 60-72 seats.

Meanwhile, a significant indication given by Akhilesh Yadav has surprised everyone. In an interview to BBC Hindi, Akhilesh said that although he believes that the Samajwadi Party and Congress alliance has got the support of majority in UP, but in case need be (to keep BJP out of power) we are open to ally with the BSP.

Interestingly, Akhilesh used the relation of Bua-Bhatija (nephew-aunt), the same address he has used to take a dig on the BSP supremo, to say that he respects Mayawati as a leader after she considers him his nephew.

While state elections cannot be seen as a referendum on the central government, what has made UP elections different is PM Modi’s personal involvement. Not only did he address dozens of elections rallies, he went out of the way to give his party an edge over the other parties, especially in the last phase of the election.

Since PM Modi himself spearheaded the BJP campaign, its victory will put a final stamp on the popularity of PM Modi and the approval of his policies — especially demonetisation — by masses. The image boost may not yield any immediate concrete benefits to him but will certainly launch the wind in his favour for the next Lok Sabha elections.

The stakes are even higher for UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Another win will make the SP leader a national player to watch out for in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Also, much before the real results are out, Akhilesh-loyalists are busy defending their leader. Today Azam Khan, reportedly said that Akhilesh can’t be blamed alone if the SP loses in UP elections. He said that alliance with Congress didn’t make a huge difference.

It seems that protecting Akhilesh is the right move, because if the BJP wins UP, then Akhilesh will be attacked by many within the family. Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal would not let Akhilesh go off the hook in the event of debacle. First, Akhilesh made the cardinal mistake of ceding a huge political ground to Congress which was decimated by Mulayam. Second, he alienated all those leaders who were cultivated by Mulayam for forging an effective social coalition.

Also, if most exit poll results hold on March 11, then it may mark an end to BSP chief Mayawati’s political career. It is quite clear that the Dalit-Muslim combination didn’t take place and she may have even failed to consolidate some of the Jatav Dalit votes who may have, if exit polls are correct, stayed with BJP. The party had failed to win a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.