The mega anti-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh is getting closer to becoming a reality. Indications suggest, putting at rest all speculations about differences over seat sharing in the state with the largest number of Lok Sabha seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) may soon formalise their alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress is left only with pocket boroughs Amethi and Rai Bareilly to fight 2019's UP polls from. (Source: India Today)
Reports in certain sections of the media also suggest that the BSP may walk away with the larger chunk of seats (38), SP will most likely contest on 37 while Chaudhary Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) may get three in western UP. Only the Amethi and Rai Bareilly seats have been left for the Gandhi family. The announcement, however, is not likely to be made any time before Mawayati’s birthday on January 15.
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be a make-or-break opportunity for both the SP and BSP. While the BSP was reduced to zero in 2014, it was only the magic of the Mulayam Singh Yadav family that could withstand the Modi wave.
The 2017 Assembly polls' loss has added to the sense of urgency among both regional satraps to unite to stop the BJP juggernaut.
Looking at the vote percentage in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP, riding high on the Narendra Modi wave, got a little over 42 per cent votes while the SP got 22 and the BSP close to 20 per cent.
The message to the Congress from SP-BSP is clear: No, we are not impressed. (Source: PTI)
But this may change in 2019 owing to an SP-BSP alliance.
While Yadavs constitute 15 per cent of the state's total votes, Muslims constitute 18 per cent. Dalits form about 21 per cent of the state's population. Put together, the SP-BSP alliance (Yadavs + Muslims + Dalits) constitutes about 54 per cent of the state's population.
The Dalit, Muslim and Yadav votes make a killing combination to take on the BJP — which is seen largely as being an upper-caste votebank beneficiary.
The SP-BSP combine will look to continue with their winning momentum. Bypolls wins have emboldened the alliance which smelled blood after beating the BJP in its stronghold of Gorakhpur. The Phulpur bypoll victory by the combine against the BJP further cemented this belief.
Not to forget, the Kairana Lok Sabha seat win was the latest and most emphatic assertion of that belief. The RLD's candidate, Tabassum Hasan, won the seat.
Tabassum Hasan of the RLD won the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll. (Source: Twitter)
There is one catch though.
All these victories have landed in the kitty of either the SP or RLD, with BSP showing no interest in contesting these bypolls. BSP supremo Mayawati managed to transfer her votebank to the SP and the RLD on all three occasions as well as the Nurpur Assembly bypoll. But there are doubts over whether the SP will manage to do the same for BSP candidates in its own strongholds.
Previous alliance patterns hint that the BSP may not benefit as much as the SP and RLD from this mega-alliance. This will be a major concern for Mayawati who fancies becoming frontrunner for the Prime Minister’s job in the event of a hung Parliament. But such is the desperation among the one-time sworn enemies that the ‘Bua-Bhatija’ relationship has matured over all these months.
The ‘Bua-Bhatija’ relationship has left all its bitterness behind. (Source: PTI)
Post the Assembly poll victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Congress is busy cobbling up its ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, where 40 seats are up for grabs.
But it’s this mega-alliance in UP which may actually jeopardise Modi and Amit Shah’s 2019 Lok Sabha plans. The SP and BSP are unfazed by Congress victories in the neighbouring states of MP and Rajasthan. The top leaders of SP and BSP carefully avoided sharing a stage with other Opposition parties at the swearing-in ceremonies of Congress chief ministers in MP and Rajasthan.
The message is loud and clear — both principal parties of the state with the largest number of Lok Sabha seats are unmoved by the bonhomie shown by parties aligned to the Congress post-Assembly poll results.
The BSP and SP are in no mood to have any truck with the Congress ahead of the polls and are showing no mercy to the grand old party. Just the two seats won by the Congress in the 2014 Modi tsunami have been left aside as a token.
While this may look tough on the Congress, this is actually a very strategic move by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.
Let’s not forget that the Congress won 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2009. The party still has some hold among upper caste voters in UP and this may eat into BJP votes in a tri-cornered fight, benefitting the SP-BSP combine in case of a close contest in some constituencies.
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be a battle for survival for the SP and the BSP. A reason why both parties are hell-bent on giving an all-out fight to the BJP.
At stake are 80 seats — 73 of which went into the BJP’s kitty in 2014.
No wonder they say, the road to Delhi goes through Lucknow.
Also read: Rahul Gandhi fighting hard to revive Congress in Uttar Pradesh: Will achche din return for the grand old party?