Different shades of religious polarisation were reflected in the CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey in Uttar Pradesh.
During the campaign for the State Assembly election, there was an animated debate on the ‘80:20 factor’. Did this election see any major religious polarisation in the State? One preliminary caveat that needs to be added to this discussion, is the clear bipolar contest that the State witnessed.
Never before has the electoral result involved two major players sharing over 95% of the seats. This factor needs to be the context in which the data flowing from the survey on the nature and intensity of religious polarisation needs to be assessed.
If the vote share of the 80% Hindu community voters is taken into account, the BJP secured a little over half the Hindu vote (54%) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) polled one-fourth of the Hindu vote (26%) (Table 1).
This time around, in light of the bipolar contest, both parties polled seven percentage points higher votes among Hindus as compared to the 2017 polls. Among the 20% Muslim vote, the SP secured close to eight of every 10 votes (79%), an increase from close to half the votes in 2017. The BJP secured a little less than one of every 10 Muslim votes (8%), a marginal increase from 2017. Thus while half the Hindu vote was garnered by the BJP, the Samajwadi party secured over three-fourths of the Muslim vote.
How did the Hindu and Muslim vote trend in constituencies which had a significant Muslim presence? In constituencies which accounted for between 20-39% of Muslim population, the BJP secured close to six of every 10 (59%) Hindu votes (Table 2).
The consolidation of the Hindu vote for the BJP was much stronger when it came to constituencies with more than 40% of Muslim population.
Here the BJP secured nearly seven of every 10 Hindu votes (69%). Thus, the greater the Muslim presence, the greater was the majority consolidation in favour of the BJP.
When it came to the voting pattern among Muslim voters in the same constituencies, a parallel trend of minority consolidation was noticed. In constituencies with between 20-39% Muslim population, eight of every 10 (80%) of the Muslim vote went to the SP.
In constituencies with more than 40% of Muslim population, the SP secured over nine of every ten (94%) Muslim votes. Thus a more intense minority consolidation was seen in seats with a greater Muslim population. The greater Muslim consolidation in Muslim-dominated areas is neutralised by the Hindu consolidation in the same areas, creating an electoral outcome favourable to the BJP.
How important was the Ram temple issue while deciding on voting? Around half the Hindu respondents who felt that it was an important issue voted for the BJP. Two thirds of those who said it was a very important or quite important issue when deciding the vote, favoured the BJP.
Sandeep Shastri is Vice Chancellor, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal, and National Co-ordinator of the Lokniti network and Sanjay Kumar is Co-Director of the Lokniti programme at CSDS