Data | Bipolar contests benefit the BJP in Uttar Pradesh polls


A majority of seats witnessed bipolar contests in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and the Bharatiya Janata Party benefited the most from such contests

A majority of seats witnessed bipolar contests in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and the Bharatiya Janata Party benefited the most from such contests

In the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, a majority of seats witnessed bipolar contests, which means that only two parties were effectively fighting the election. This marked a reversal of a trend in the State where most seats saw a triangular contest in 2017 and a multicornered fight in the polls before that. In general, the Bharatiya Janata Party benefits the most from bipolar contests, while the Samajwadi Party has an edge in nonbipolar seats. An analysis of vote shares secured by parties in a constituency using the Laakso and Taagepera method * tells us how many parties were effectively in the race to win that seat. In the 2022 elections, over 70% of the seats saw a bipolar contest, compared to just 7.4% seats in 2002. This trend was observed across all regions barring Bundelkhand and East. The Bahujan Samaj Party secured its highest vote share in these two regions, effectively emerging as a third player.

Bipolar turning

The table lists the share of seats involved in uncompetitive (<1 effective party), bipolar (2), triangular (3), fragmented (4), and multiparty (> = 5) contests since 2002. In 2002, a majority of the seats (37%) witnessed a three-cornered fight. Until 2017, the political landscape of UP, by and large, remained a triangular or multiparty contest. But in 2022, over 70% of the seats saw a bipolar contest, with the share of seats with four parties in the fray reducing to a little over 1%

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Regional divide

The table shows the effective number of parties in a seat, region-wise, in the 2022 UP Assembly elections. Barring Bundelkhand and East, all the regions witnessed a largely bipolar contest. Bundelkhand and East are the two regions where the BSP secured its highest vote share in 2022, turning the contest into a triangular one

BJP’s edge in bipolar seats

The table lists the BJP’s strike rate (wins / seats contested) in uncompetitive, bipolar, triangular, fragmented, and multiparty contests. Since 2017, the BJP’s strike rate has been the highest in bipolar contests. In 2022 too, the party had the upper hand in seats where two parties were effectively in the fray as it secured 71% of such seats

SP’s edge in non-bipolar seats

The table lists the Samajwadi Party’s strike rate in uncompetitive, bipolar, triangular, fragmented, and multiparty contests. Since 2017, the SP has performed better in seats locked in fragmented and multiparty contests. In 2022 as well, the party successfully captured 50% of the seats where four parties were successfully in the contest

BSP’s edge in multiparty seats

The table lists the BSP’s strike rate in uncompetitive, bipolar, triangular, fragmented, and multiparty contests. Similar to the SP, the BSP had a higher strike rate in seats with triangular / multiparty contests. The trend was more pronounced in 2007 when it came to power

Source: Lok Dhaba, Ashoka University

Also read: Religious polarization and electoral choices



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