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Who Will Be the Next CM of UP?: The Race Heats Up

October 12, 2016

With just about six months to go for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2017, the political scenario is all heated up in the state. Now the big question on everyone’s mind is who is going to form the next government and who will be the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The Samajwadi Party, currently the ruling party in the state, and main opposition Bahujan Samaj Party are the two key contenders in Uttar Pradesh. The people of Uttar Pradesh have voted alternately for the SP and BSP in the last couple of decades. However, national heavyweights Congress and BJP have also joined the race with lot of gusto. While the Congress is fighting hard the existential battle to remain relevant in the state in particular and India at large, the BJP is moving ahead with a lot of confidence and ambition, especially after winning 71 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections.

Who Will be Next CM of UP?

Let’s analyse where these four parties and their CM candidates stand as of now:

Samajwadi Party (Akhilesh Yadav)

After giving a massive mandate to the Samajwadi Party in the 2012 assembly elections, the people of Uttar Pradesh are severely disappointed with the party’s performance five years down the line. Deterioration of the law and order situation besides stunted progress of development are the two key reasons for the ruling party going out of favour. Akhilesh Yadav, the sitting Chief Minister, has very little authority in the government. However, people would still like to see him back as CM, giving credence to the argument that he’s the right man in the wrong party where the likes of Shivpal Yadav, Amar Singh and Azam Khan hold sway. Infighting within the party has come out of the open every once in a while in the last few months. While this may mar the Samajwadi Party’s chances in the upcoming polls, it would be a mistake to write it off completely.

Bahujan Samaj Party (Mayawati)

Voters in Uttar Pradesh are known to have voted alternately between the SP and BSP in the last couple of decades. In such a scenario, the BSP would have been a strong contender in the state. However, the entry of BJP and its playing up of the development card, has queered the pitch. Many of the BSP’s key MLAs have left the party accusing party chief Mayawati of selling tickets and not awarding them on the basis of merit. While this has, no doubt, affected the range of Mayawati’s Dalit vote base, her relevance among the state’s 21% Dalit population is not lost completely. Moreover, the BSP has an advantage over the SP and BJP as it has never had to face communal riots and law and order situations during its tenure. From this, one can surmise that while the BSP looks to emerge as an important force to reckon with in the coming UP elections 2017, it may be difficult for the party to form government on its own.

Congress (Sheila Dikshit)

The Congress knows that they are not serious contenders as far as this election is concerned. Their campaign is to promote their party and not necessarily win the elections. The main agenda of Congress in this elections is to prevent the BJP from coming to power in the state. For this, their goal is to win 50 seats, something which the party has not been able to achieve since 1989. Party leaders are betting on a hung verdict and hope to elicit the interest of the BSP for a post-poll tie-up.

BJP (Undeclared)

After sweeping the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, BJP has reasons to expect a positive outcome from the upcoming UP Assembly elections 2017. Its impressive win in 71 out of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha constituencies demonstrates that its people are interested more in ‘vikas’ (development) rather than caste and ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ (food, clothing and shelter). Though it would be far-fetched to get majority in the assembly, the BJP does stand a chance to form a coalition with either SP or BSP. The reasons for their not declaring the CM candidate could be numerous. It could be because of internal politics or also because they don’t have a suitable candidate yet. Another reason could be that since the BJP doesn’t have any reliable support base in the caste-based politics of UP, it wants to avoid the risk of alienating other communities by declaring the candidate’s name. Or is it already visualising the best possible scenario of forming a post-poll alliance with the BSP and let Mayawati take the CM’s post?

While unravelling the Uttar Pradesh elections 2017 might be a rewarding exercise for anyone interested in Indian politics, predicting the CM is a taxing exercise, especially this time around. While some argue that the OBC will be the kingmaker (or queenmaker, if you please), since India is a democracy on paper, the ultimate decider will be the discreet voters of Uttar Pradesh. It goes without saying that Uttar Pradesh has immense potential and it’s high time that it had a suited leader at the helm to steer the state forward.

Results of Opinion Polls on UP CM Candidates

CM Candidate India TV-CVoter Survey
(Aug ,16)
CM Candidate India Today-Axis Opinion Poll
Akhilesh Yadav 32.8% Akhilesh Yadav 27%
Mayawati 28.2% Mayawati 31%
Sheila Dikshit 5.1% Rajnath Singh 17%
Any BJP Leader 26.0% Sheila Dikshit 1%
Others 7.9% Priyanka Gandhi 2%
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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of

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