The most important point to emerge from UP is that the recently forged SP and BSP relationship is likely to hold for the Lok Sabha poll.
The results for the Rajya Sabha election, whose final announcement became available late on Friday, will naturally be placed in the context of the next Lok Sabha election, whose timing has lent itself too much speculation.
For some time the guesswork in political circles has been that the Narendra Modi government may find it expedient to advance the election to the end of this year, rather than wait out until May 2019 when it is due, as it may not be comfortable with the idea of going into national polls with a below-par result in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in December 2018, which is not thought unlikely.
On Friday, addressing the BJP parliamentary party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked MPs to remain prepared for the next election. This was the first time he was saying this outright. He urged fellow parliamentarians to farm out into the countryside. “Sampark aur samvad” — contact and dialogue.
In the just-ended Rajya Sabha poll, the BJP has raised its tally by 12, but it is nowhere near the halfway mark in the Rajya Sabha. None of this matters very much at this stage when the countdown has begun for the next Parliament election. Between now and December, or even May next year, the government is unlikely to venture into major legislation for which comfortable numbers in the council of states may be needed.
Nevertheless, there are some key messages coming through for the Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. In UP, the BJP won an additional seat in relation to the strength of its own block of MLAs, thanks to its ability to get cross-voting done from the BSP and the SP camp. That is a reference to the capacity to poach disgruntled MLAs of parties, and luring independents, with an indirect assurance of future rewards.
The most important point to emerge from UP is that the recently forged SP and BSP relationship is likely to hold for the Lok Sabha poll. Although the SP could not make the BSP candidate pull it off, the party showed that it could transfer as many as 10 of its additional first preference votes to the BSP, which some had thought unlikely.
These two leading regional parties of UP had buried the hatchet after a quarter century and the BSP backed the SP in crucial Parliament byelections in UP to record sensational wins, giving the BJP a big fright. If SP-BSP ties are sustained, the BJP’s prospects can be dented.
In Jharkhand, Congress’ alliance with a strong regional party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, helped the former bag a Rajya Sabha seat, hurting BJP’s chances. In West Bengal, the Trinamul Congress aided the victory of a Congress candidate, though in this case the relationship for the Lok Sabha poll between these two parties appears more complicated.