Bitter rivals for the last two-and-a-half decades, pollsters are wondering if the camaraderie of the SP-BSP supremos will trickle down to the ground level workers in 2019
LUCKNOW, JAN 14, 2019: The Samajwadi party and the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati may have been announced with much fanfare but poll pundits are wondering if their chequered history will not cast a shadow over the plans for the Elections 2019?
As far as history goes, this is the third pre-poll alliance by the BSP — the first in 1993 with the SP and later in 1996 with the Congress for UP Assembly elections. This is the first pre-poll alliance it has struck for Lok Sabha polls. It is obvious to both parties that they have not allied from the position of strength and it’s an alliance for their survival in politics.
Mayawati said she has buried the hatchet and is prioritizing national interest, putting behind the guest house incident of June 1995. Akhilesh Yadav reciprocated, saying any disrespect for Mayawati would be insulting him as well.
But the bigger question is whether this truce will be visible at the ground level as well? The party workers have been at each other’s throat for the last 25 years. Both parties have pursued caste-based identity politics and later graduated to inclusive politics. How they will garner forces for the forthcoming elections remains a wild guess.
Political psephologists opine this alliance would have been devastating had it been for the assembly elections. For the Lok Sabha so Akhilesh Yadav has projected Mayawati for the top job of the country and left the leadership issue for UP open. Many feel it was Akhilesh’s political compulsion to project Mayawati for Prime Minister if he was to sustain the alliance for future elections.
“The first alliance of SP-BSP in 1993 was a political experiment and both parties were greenhorns. Back then, they were shooting in the dark and now they have experience of governance. The hostility among the Yadavs and Dalits in rural hinterland is an old dictum. Presently, both Dalits and OBCs, including Yadavs, are deprived and subjugated,” said Professor Sanjeev Bhanawat, retired professor from the Rajasthan University Mass communication department.
“It’s a western concept to suggest that the BSP is pursuing identity politics. The Dalits can only pursue identity politics as for them the issue is existence rather than the identity. The alliance is to tell the voters that they are worthy to govern and rule. They will have to establish that they are also development-oriented along with along with fulfilling the objectives of social justice,” said Prof Bhanawat.
ALLIANCE UPSETS BJP
The BJP would no longer get the benefit of division of votes and reap rich political dividends as it got in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and later in UP polls. The coming together of the SP and BSP also poses a challenge before the BJP to prevent the arithmetic from turning into chemistry and to prevent the non-Jatavs, who had overwhelmingly voted for the BJP in 2014 and 2017 elections, from returning to the BSP fold. The BJP would also do well to widen the social and political fault-lines between the SP and BSP.
In a statement to the press, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, general secretary of the BJP, has stated, “We will go to the people on the basis of our governments at the Centre and in UP to achieve the target of 73+ plus seats in the state. The people of UP saw the team of ‘do ladke’ — Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi — in 2017. Both had pledged to continue the alliance in Lok Sabha elections. History is being repeated. SP and BSP are saying the same thing that their alliance will last long and that they will fight together in 2022 Assembly elections.”
“The people of UP have seen such alliances and they will reject the SP-BSP tie-up which is banking on the sole negative agenda of preventing Narendra Modi from becoming the prime minister in May 2019,” Pathak added.
According to many, the alliance is a big threat for the BJP and the fact that they are upset with the same is evident in the recent speeches of the party’s top leader.