The alliance between the BSP and the SP in the state of Uttar Pradesh has run into trouble. Now, Mayawati led BSP will contest the by-polls on 11 assembly constituencies alone. This means that the Mahagathbandhan has fallen apart for all practical purposes.
Mayawati on 3 June 2019 blamed her party’s alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Dal for the rout in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls that saw the Gathbandhan failing to get the desired result. This comes just five months after both parties had said that their alliance was “permanent”, and would be alive for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections.
In January, old rivals SP and BSP had announced a pre-poll alliance to take on the BJP in UP, deciding to contest 38 seats each out of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats. The Gandhi family’s traditional bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli were to be left for the Congress, while two seats were to be given to other local parties.
Akhilesh and Mayawati, in a joint press conference to announce their alliance, had declared that the tie-up between the rivals was to be a “permanent one”, and that it would carry on up to and beyond the 2022 state assembly elections. In the weeks that followed, Ajit Singh’s RLD entered the alliance and was given three seats, with one taken away from the SP’s quota and the two earmarked for local parties.
The gathbandhan was relying on a strategic caste arithmetic, given that UP’s population contains 40 per cent OBCs, 20 per cent Dalits and 19 per cent Muslims. It was banking on the transfer of the SP’s Yadav-Muslim vote bank to the BSP and the latter’s Dalit vote bank to the former. The addition of the RLD was expected to bring in the Jat votes, especially in western UP.
However, the allies failed to transfer their vote-banks on a number of seats, resulting in the SP winning just five seats — the same number as 2014 — while the BSP went from zero to 10. They could only bring down the BJP and its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal)’s tally to 64 from their combined 2014 mark of 73.
1. Unable to take on the BJP
Both parties have understood that they cannot take on the BJP even with their combined might. The Mahagathbandhan not only failed, but it also left both the parties embarrassed.Ddespite an alliance between the two parties, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal managed to win 64 out of 80 seats in the state. Its vote share also saw a significant jump from 42.3% to 49.6%. On the other hand, the vote share of SP saw a significant decline from 22.2% to 18% and the vote share of BSP also declined from 19.6% to 19.3The two parties had set aside years of hostility before coming together but it only turned out to be counter-productive.
2. Unacceptability among supporters
The leadership of the two parties had come together setting aside years of animosity. However, the cadres and supporters of the two parties, especially the SP, do not seem to have been happy with the decision. A video of the joint rally of the two parties during the election campaign went viral. In the video, the SP workers could be seen tearing apart BSP flags. It was also being said that the workers of the two parties were involved in clashes and attacked one other with chairs. Broken chairs could also be seen in the video. This makes it clear that even though the leadership might have entered into an alliance, the workers at the ground level never really accepted it. The coalition was at best, a superficial show of strength.
3. SP: The biggest loser in Mahagathbandhan
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, “Looking at how the situation in the state is right now, it will be better for us to contest the upcoming by-elections on our own.”
Mayawati said, “In the results of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, the base vote of Samajwadi Party, the Yadav community, didn’t support the party. Even strong contenders of SP were defeated. Even Dimple Yadav couldn’t win the Kannauj seat.”
The BSP chief further said that when Samajwadi Party couldn’t even secure its own vote base, how could it help her party.
However Mayawati also said:
“It is not a permanent break. In future, if we feel that the SP chief has succeeded in his political endeavours, we will work together again. But if he doesn’t succeed, it would be better for us to work separately. So we have decided to fight the by-elections alone.”
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