Uttar Pradesh powered Narendra Modi’s meteoric rise on the national stage in 2014. A decade later, it is cutting him down to size.

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party had won a landslide victory in India’s most politically influential state, winning 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. To put this in perspective: its tally in the 2009 election was 10.

Even in 2019, despite the two main regional parties coming together in an alliance, the BJP substantially held on to its gains, winning 62 seats.

But 2024 has proved to be a reality check.

The BJP won 33 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Its vote share fell to 41.37% from the all-time high of 49.98% in 2019.

The state is single-handedly responsible for bringing down the party’s national tally to 240, which is 32 seats short of the halfway mark in the Lok Sabha. With the BJP now dependent on allies, it might put the prime minister’s ambition of getting a third term in the danger zone.

So what went wrong for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh?

A detailed analysis will have to await the full numbers. But here are some factors we observed on the ground.


Inflation was a common concern expressed by voters across many social groups. In the 2022 Assembly election, the bite of inflation had been softened by the Centre’s pandemic-era food ration scheme, which gave an extra 5 kg of free foodgrain to poor families, on top of the existing 5 kg entitlement. The eligible families also received a kilo of chana dal and a litre of oil. The enhanced rations ended last year. With food inflation high, voters said they felt the pinch.


There are no jobs, what will our children do? That was a common refrain. Even supporters of the BJP cited this as the main reason for dissatisfaction with the party. A few months ago, the paper for the Uttar Pradesh police recruitment exam leaked. Lakhs of applicants who had invested both time and money preparing for the exam were left stranded. This created a groundswell of anger among the educated youth.

Stray cattle

For many years, farmers in the state have complained of stray cattle invading their fields and laying their crops to waste. This is an outcome of the ban on cattle slaughter that the BJP imposed after coming to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. In the Assembly elections, the anger left the BJP untouched. This time, however, it seemed to have boiled over. However, it is important to note that anger over economic distress was not uniformly spread across all groups – Dalit and backward caste voters were more likely to raise these concerns than the BJP’s traditional upper-caste supporters.

Dalits and the Constitution

Among Dalits, the fear had taken deep roots that a BJP victory would put the Constitution in danger. This was triggered by the party’s slogan “Ab ki baar, 400 paar” – this time, we will cross 400 – and viral videos where party leaders were seen asking voters to elect the BJP with an overwhelming majority so that it could bring changes to the Constitution. “They want to replace Samvidhan [Constitution] with Manu ka vidhan [Manu’s laws],” said a young Dalit woman in Barabanki, a constituency reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. The Congress is all set to win the seat with a margin of over a lakh voters.

Social justice

Over the past decade, the BJP had assiduously cultivated backward caste groups that resented the dominance of the Yadavs under the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. It specially focused on extremely backward castes like the Nishads, the Nonias, the Pals, by giving them greater representation at different levels of the government. But, in this election, the caste coalition appears to have frayed under the weight of a major contradiction at the heart of BJP governments: upper castes continue to hold power disproportionate to their numbers. Among voters from backward castes, conversations that began with inflation and joblessness often segued to concerns about continuing caste inequality.

Samajwadi-Congress alliance

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress appear to have complemented each other well. The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party did clever politics, reducing the number of Yadav nominations to five. Instead, it contested the election on the broad-based plank of PDA – pichhda, Dalit, alpasankhyak, or backward, Dalit and religious minorities.

It fielded its Dalit face, Awadhesh Prasad, in the general seat of Faizabad, where the newly inaugurated Ram Mandir of Ayodhya is located. Prasad is leading in the seat as of 5 pm. In recent years, there has been a revival of the Congress’s popularity among Muslims. Together, the two parties held considerable appeal for voters who wanted to oust the BJP – including Dalit voters, who saw the INDIA alliance as a more viable challenger to the BJP than the Bahujan Samaj Party.

This article was updated on June 5 to reflect the final results.