Contrary to popular perception, the Bahujan Samaj Party has actually improved its performance in Vidarbha, albeit marginally, in terms of percentage of votes polled during last week's assembly election in Maharashtra and the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year.
Mayawati's party had polled approximately 7 per cent of the votes cast in Vidarbha during the Lok Sabha polls. In five months, its tally increased to approximately 9.25 per cent.
The reason why the BSP is not being perceived to have had much impact in Vidarbha during the assembly polls is the fact that no front dominated the election this time.
The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine are matched neck-and-neck in Vidarbha. The Congress-NCP alliance has won 30 of the 66 seats in the region, while the saffron combine has done slightly better, winning 31 seats together with its ally, the Swatantra Bharat Party, the political outfit of Sharad Joshi's Shetkari Sanghatana.
By contrast, the saffron combine had swept the Lok Sabha elections, winning 10 out of the 11 seats in Vidarbha.
Secondly, the BSP has not won even a single seat in the region (in fact, it has not even opened its account in Maharashtra). This has created an impression that the BSP has not had any impact.
Statistically speaking, the BSP's presence may have actually helped the saffron combine in Vidarbha. There are 34 constituencies in the region where the BSP polled more votes than the margin of victory. Of these 34 constituencies, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance has won 19 seats and independents have won three, while the Congress-NCP combine has won 12 seats.
Thus, both the major fronts may have gained from the BSP's presence.
The 19 constituencies that went in favour of the BJP-Sena are Kamptee, Tumsar, Goregaon, Amgaon, Gadchiroli, Rajura, Sawali, Bramhapuri, Chimur, Malkapur, Chikhli, Medshi, Karanja, Melghat, Tiwsa, Walgaon, Kelapur, Yavatmal and Umarkhed, while those won by the Congress-NCP are Nagpur South, Nagpur East, Kalameshwar, Bhandara, Adyal, Tiroda, Gondia, Sakoli, Armori, Sironcha, Mangrulpir and Badnera. Independents won from Saoner, Morshi and Digras.
However, to put things in the right perspective, the BSP's performance has varied from extremely poor to superlative in Vidarbha this time. It has polled as few as 1,451 votes (in Murtijapur) and 1,969 votes (in Akot), and even as high as 40,000 votes (in Bhandara).