SP-BSP break-up: Why Mayawati's fresh hostility against former 'bhatija' Akhilesh Yadav is no surprise

Sharat Pradhan
Sharat PradhanJun 25, 2019 | 15:19

SP-BSP break-up: Why Mayawati's fresh hostility against former 'bhatija' Akhilesh Yadav is no surprise

The 'gathbandhan' between 'bua' Maya and 'bhatija' Akhilesh was based on the shaky ground of mutual distrust and political desperation. It had to collapse, with Mayawati blaming Akhilesh.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati’s decision to part ways with the Samajwadi Party has not come as any kind of surprise to me.

In fact, any political observer who has been following the rise and fall of Mayawati and her party ever since its inception in the early eighties could have easily predicted that the alliance struck between her and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav was not here to stay.


A fresh start: Mayawati had decided to 'forget' the Guest House encounter to strengthen ties with the SP. (Source: India Today)

Having kept close track of Mayawati’s vicissitudes in public life, I could see that the ‘gathbandhan’ with Akhilesh Yadav stood on the shaky foundations of mutual mistrust, suspicion — and desperation for political survival.

Having been at war with Akhilesh’s father and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav for a quarter of a century, the BSP supremo made it a point to convince all and sundry that she had decided to now let bygones be bygones. All this, while she had not actually pardoned the SP patriarch for letting loose his party goons to beat up BSP MLAs, with whom she was holding a meeting in Lucknow’s State Guest House on June 2, 1995, shortly after the withdrawal of BSP support to the then-Mulayam–led state government.

Mayawati never minced her words in accusing Mulayam of conspiring to eliminate her on that fateful day in the Guest House — where she remained holed up the whole night.

Significantly, even as she struck a deal with Akhilesh, she did not hesitate to state before the 2019 Lok Sabha election,“I have decided to overlook the Guest House incident and agreed to ally with Akhilesh Yadav in this election”. As the election proceeded, she reportedly reassured Akhilesh, “This alliance will continue in the next state Assembly election too.”


Yet, when it came to ground politics, Mayawati did not join Akhilesh on more than just 11 rallies during the nearly two month-long election campaign.

Right from day one, Akhilesh allowed himself to play second fiddle to her, letting out the impression that he was a political novice before her. Even when it came to the division of seats between SP and BSP, Mayawati made it a point to ensure that she got one extra seat to contest.

She got her way. Initially: Mayawati called the shots in the SP-BSP alliance. (Source: India Today)

Just as resentment in the SP camp was brewing over the fact that the alliance did not have the blessings of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh managed to rope in his father to share the dais with the BSP supremo at Mainpuri where the SP founder was in the fray. Love for the son led an ailing Mulayam to not only shower praises on Mayawati but also issue appeals to the SP rank and file to “always show respect to Mayawati”.

Akhilesh seemed too excited when Mayawati agreed to address a joint rally at Kannauj, the constituency of the SP chief’s wife, Dimple.


In an unexpected warm and personal gesture, he made Dimple touch Mayawati’s feet at the rally. But that apparently did not go down well with Akhilesh’s own Yadav clan, who reportedly felt that he was going overboard and, in the bargain, hurting “Yadav pride”.

Evidently, all through the election, Mayawati continued to be condescending towards Akhilesh, who preferred to keep quiet, even when the BSP supremo openly castigated the SP workers  for being “indisciplined.

During the election, it was also becoming increasingly evident that Mayawati’s hold over Dalits as a whole stood eroded.

From the time of Kanshi Ram, who held sway over the larger chunk of Dalits, Mayawati had reduced herself to being a leader of essentially Jatav Dalits. The non-Jatav Dalits could be seen drifting in the same manner as non-Yadav OBCs were visibly deserting Akhilesh — evidently, Akhilesh too had proved to be no Mulayam, who enjoyed a fairly good hold over non-Yadav OBCs too.

Yet, there was no doubt that Akhilesh continued to enjoy the substantial support of Yadavs and Muslims. Significantly, a large number of Yadavs, who were unhappy with the alliance, chose not to vote for the SP ally — however, SP’s Muslim support base did easily transfer its vote to the BSP nominees.

It was beyond doubt that if the BSP managed to win 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, after failing to even open its account in 2014, that was because of the support that came from the SP.

It is no secret that despite her unflinching 19% vote bank of Dalits, Mayawati’s party could not strike a winning score without the add-on. The only time she would pull off a victory was in 2007, when she struck a majority in the UP Assembly. That was clearly attributable to the anti-Mulayam vote that went to her party in a big way.

What gave a boost to the idea of an alliance was the euphoria on account of the unexpected victory in three simultaneous by-elections to the Lok Sabha and one state assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.

It was also a foregone conclusion that Akhilesh would be at the receiving end if the alliance failed to accrue the political dividends the two leaders anticipated.                              

Barely two weeks after the Lok Sabha results on June 3, when she made public her disillusionment with the SP, Mayawati not only questioned Akhilesh’s leadership qualities but also his organisational skills — which implies how poorly she rates him as a political strategist.

"Don’t take this as a break-up”, Mayawati told a press conference, adding, “Later, if we find that the SP chief has succeeded in improving things within his party, we will join hands again to work together. But if he doesn't succeed, it will be good for us to work separately. That is why we have decided to go to the forthcoming 11 by-elections in UP on our own.”

Patch-Up to Break-Up: Decades of hostility. A brief alliance. A bitter break. (Source: India Today)

Mayawati's hostility to Akhilesh is now open, as she pointedly blames her former 'bhatija' for the electoral debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Ironically, however, it was Akhilesh who suffered more with just five seats in his kitty as against BSP’s 10.

In any case, this is not the first time that Mayawati is dumping an ally. Way back in the nineties, she abandoned the BJP, which was responsible for giving her the first taste of power — she became chief minister of UP three times with the BJP's support, and each time, she slammed the door on their face. 

But that is what Maya is all about – I, me and myself. And that trait could not have been more pronounced than her nominating her brother and nephew to coveted positions in the party now. Her hardcore lieutenants, including Satish Misra, who helped her garner the support of upper-caste Brahmins into the essentially Dalit party, have been left high and dry. Even if she were to elevate only Dalits, surely there were far more capable and dedicated activists in the party who could have been entrusted with the responsibilities now given to her own “blue blood”?

But with Mayawati, expect no answers.

Last updated: June 25, 2019 | 15:19
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