Uttar Pradesh is India’s most politically important state. With 80 seats in the Lok Sabha and 35 in the Rajya Sabha, it has the largest number of legislators in the Indian Parliament. The political might of this state can be imagined when one thinks of the fact that eight of India’s fourteen prime ministers are from Uttar Pradesh. Maharashta with 48 seats has the second largest number of seats in Lok Sabha, 32 less than Uttar Pradesh. In terms of population, if Uttar Pradesh was an independent nation, it would be world’s fifth most populated country.
Congress was once a dominant force in the state during the early years after independence but now the party’s dominance has been reduced to only a few seats in both the Lok Sabha as well as in the legislative assembly.
THE DOMINANT YEARS: FROM INDEPENDENCE TO 1967
The Congress was the single-most dominant party in the state of Uttar Pradesh after independence. In the first Lok Sabha elections, the Indian National Congress (INC) won by a huge margin. The INC won 364 seats out of the available 489 to form the government at the Centre. In Uttar Pradesh alone, Congress won 81 out of the available 85 seats. Also, winning 388 seats in the first legislative elections of the state shows their dominance during that era. One can understand their dominance by simply comparing the second-largest party in the state. Socialist party was the second- largest party with just 20 seats. So the INC got 19.4 times the seats the Socialist party won.
This win could largely be attributed to the INC’s role in the Indian independence struggle which they were able to transform into votes. In addition, the absence of a strong opposition party in the state further helped their cause. According to Sudha Pai in ‘The Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh’, INC successfully shifted from an anti-colonial movement to a broad-based umbrella party that had the support of most sections of the society: the smaller zamindars, bigger tenants and landless peasantry, industrial interests, as well as the lower castes and minorities. During this time, the party was largely in the hands of the upper castes who managed to get votes from the middle and the lower-caste groups of the state.
In the 1957 elections, the Congress managed to get full majority in both the legislative assembly and the Indian parliamentary elections. However, their seats share in both the state and the general elections declined. The Congress could manage 286 seats in the state assembly, losing 102 seats from the last election seat count. Even in the general elections, Congress could garner 70 out of the 85 seats from the state. Thus, their seat share had gone down and their voter share percentage also dropped.
There were a few factors that contributed to this decline. First, Govind Ballabh Pant, the first Chief Minister of the state who was able to keep different groups together left to be the Union Home Minister....