How Akhilesh Yadav’s PDA pitch trumped BJP’s Ram Mandir narrative | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha election results in Uttar Pradesh mark a dramatic change in the state’s political fabric, with Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party springing up a surprise and making substantial electoral gains against the all powerful Bharatiya Janata Party. Samajwadi Party won 37 out of the 80 seats – making this its best ever performance in the state in Lok Sabha elections.The BJP, which was riding strong on the grand inauguration of Ram temple in Ayodhya by Prime Minister Modi and also chief minister Yogi Adityanath‘s strong governance model, has been reduced to 33 Lok Sabha seats.
It is the impact of this UP setback that the BJP has missed all its pre-poll targets like “Mission 370” and “400-paar” and has even fallen short of majority in Lok Sabha. After running two majority governments at the Centre, the BJP will now be dependent on its allies to form and run its third consecutive government.
So, what changed the game? How did Akhilesh manage to stump the BJP, which almost looked invincible, at least in Uttar Pradesh. The Samajwadi Party’s remarkable performance in UP can be credited to Akhilesh Yadav‘s revised strategy of “social engineering.”

Akhilesh Yadav’s powerful PDA pitch
Akhilesh Yadav made a very strong “PDA” pitch to counter BJP’s enduring and powerful political narrative centered around the Ram Mandir. His PDA stood for ‘Pichhda Dalit Alpsankhyak’ – which was a well thought and perfectly executed move to woo Mayawati’s traditional voters and bring them together with the OBCs and minorties, who were supporting the Samajwadi party in large numbers.
Akhilesh Yadav had introduced the slogan ‘Abki Baar Pichhda Dalit Alpsankhyak (PDA) Sarkaar’ before the Ghosi assembly bypoll in Uttar Pradesh last year. At that time, few political observers would have anticipated that this slogan, coined in UP’s Mau district, would lead to a major twist in Lok Sabha elections.
As the results show, Akhilesh Yadav’s poll narrative of PDA (Pichhda, Dalit, and Alpsankhyak) resonated strongly with the voters of the state.
PDA strategy guided distribution of tickets
Akhilesh ensured that the spirit of PDA guided the distribution of tickets for the Lok Sabha polls. It is no surprise that the bulk of SP winners are from these communities. Over 86% of the party’s elected MPs in Uttar Pradesh hailing from OBC, Dalit, and Muslim backgrounds.
The SP’s 37 MPs comprise 20 from the OBC community, eight from the SC community, and four from the Muslim community. Among the upper castes, there is one MP each from the Brahmin (Sanatan Pandey), Vaishya (Ruchi Veera), and Bhumihar (Rajeev Rai) communities, while two MPs are Thakurs (Anand Bhadoria and Birendra Singh).

In fact, the ‘PDA’ strategy included the strategic move of fielding SC candidates in unreserved seats such as Meerut and Faizabad. In Faizabad, the winner was Awadhesh Prasad, a Dalit candidate, who contested against the saffron party’s candidate Lallu Singh. In Meerut, the party fielded Sunita Verma, a Dalit and former mayor of Meerut, who narrowly lost to BJP’s Arun Govil by just over 10,500 votes.
The SP ally Congress, which won six seats, includes one MP each from the OBC (Rakesh Rathor), SC (Tanuj Punia), and Muslim (Imran Masood) communities. Among the remaining three, Rahul Gandhi is a Kashmiri Brahmin, Ujjwal Reoti Raman Singh is a Bhumihar, and KL Sharma is a Punjabi.
Major setback for BJP in Ram Temple constituency
While BJP would be upset with the shock defeat in its bastion, what would worry the party is its failure in Faizabad, a constituency which includes Ayodhya. The construction and inauguration of grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya after decades-long struggle was perhaps the biggest BJP achievement for its supporters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself led the rituals during the massive opening ceremony, ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of the ‘Ram Temple’ on January 22.
So, when the results were out on June 4, the BJP was clueless as to what went wrong. Samajwadi Party’s move to field a dalit candidate in the constituency paid off as Awadhesh Prasad defeated BJP’s Lallu Singh by a margin of over 50,000 votes.
Not only did it lose the Faizabad seat, but the BJP suffered defeat in all the five Lok Sabha constituencies within the Ayodhya division: Faizabad, Barabanki, Amethi, Sultanpur, and Ambedkar Nagar.
PDA counters BJP’s social coalition
Besides the strong Ram Mandir pitch, the BJP had also formed a robust social coalition with OBC caste-centric sub-regional parties. These included the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by Om Prakash Rajbhar, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Jayant Chaudhary, Anupriya Patel’s Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the Nishad Party of Sanjay Nishad.

Winners for BJP in Uttar Pradesh- Lok Sabha elections 2024 (1)

However, as the results show it was the coalition of PDA that made maximum political gains in these elections.
‘Do ladko ki jodi’
For Akhilesh, this victory is significant. This was the first general election after the death of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh did not disappoint. In the run up to the elections, Akhilesh lost an old ally to the BJP. Jayant Chaudhary ditched Akhilesh and went into NDA fold after PM Modi honoured former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh with Bharat Ratna. The SP chief decided to forget the differences with Cogress during the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections when Kamal Nath refused to give seats to Akhilesh, and went ahead with his alliance with the grand old party.
During the campaign, both Akhilesh and Rahul – who were frequently mocked by PM Modi as “Do ladko ki jodi” and targeted over dynasty politics – kept the momentum going and ensured that the narrative stayed around issues in the state.
Samajwadi Party’s spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh that sends the highest number of MPs to Parliament represents has made it the third-largest party in the 18th Lok Sabha.

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