As the sun rose on 2019, the countdown to the Lok Sabha elections also began with the political chessboard being laid out in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. The ‘unofficial’ alliance between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which came into existence during the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls last year, is set to be ‘formalised’ on Saturday, September 12.
BSP supremo Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav will be holding a joint press conference in Hotel Taj in Lucknow on Saturday. The press invites have been sent jointly and bear the signatures of SP national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary and BSP national secretary Satish Chandra.
According to sources, the framework of the alliance has already been finalised by the two parties. It is being said that both the parties will fight 37 seats each in Uttar Pradesh, which has a total of 80 Lok Sabha seats, and may leave two traditional seats for the Congress – Amethi and Rae Bareli -- as also Kairana and Baghpat for Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. In the recent bypolls in Kairana, RLD’s Begum Tabassum Hasan had emerged victorious.
All in all, one can say that officially it may be an SP-BSP ‘Grand Alliance’, but unofficially Congress and RLD may also be part of it. It, however, remains to be seen how many seats the Congress and RLD will be satisfied with. This means that in case of some hurdle on this front, both SP and BSP may reduce or increase the number of seats they will contest. A general consensus is being sensed that these four parties may eventually come to some kind of understanding to avoid pitting candidates against each other. Even if these four parties do not reach a consensus, an alliance between the two key players – SP and BSP – is enough to checkmate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As per sources, BJP and its allies are burning midnight oil to assess their political loss or gain once the ‘Grand Alliance’ gets formalised. But, one doesn’t have to go too far to gauge the electoral impact of this alliance in UP. Just recall the outcome of the bypolls in Gorapkhpur and Phulpur last year.
Politically, Gorakhpur is the home ground of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, from where he won his Lok Sabha seat in 2014. He has been winning from Gorakhpur since 1998. Before that, his mentor, Mahant Avaidyanath used to be the MP from Gorakhpur. In 2017, after becoming the CM, Yogi Adityanath resigned from his seat, but was unable to ensure victory for the BJP candidate from Gorakhpur.
In the same way, Allahabad’s (now Prayagraj) Phulpur Lok Sabha seat was vacated by UP’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. In 2016, Maurya was state BJP president. But after vacating his seat, Maurya also failed to help BJP retain the seat in the bypolls.
Then came Kairana in Western UP, which was held by BJP stalwart Hukum Singh. After his death, the seat went to RLD, which was supported by SP and BSP.
So, the BJP, which romped to power at the Centre in 2014 on the back of its good showing in UP where it alone won 71 seats, and two by its ally, Apna Dal, was reduced to 68 seats. After Kairana, BJP also faced defeat in the Assembly bypolls for the Noorpur seat in Bijnore district.
SP and BSP have been termed as bitter rivals by many in the state, especially by BJP, which keeps floating rumours to ensure that the two parties don’t join hands. Now that these two parties have decided to join hands ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the political landscape in UP is set for a change. And once the landscape changes in UP, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the picture in the country is also set to change, as it is said that the road to power in Delhi runs through Lucknow (the state capital).
Now, let’s take a look at some figures.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 71 seats and bagged a vote share of 42.3% , SP got only five seats and had a vote share of 22.2%, BSP drew a blank but retained its vote share of 19.6%, while Congress won two seats with a vote share of 7.5%.
If we analyse this vote share, then during the ‘Modi Wave’ if BJP got 42.3% vote share, the SP and BSP jointly got 41.8% vote share. It is a different matter that this did not translate into seats. So in the upcoming elections, the possibility of this alliance creating political ripples is quite high.
While just adding vote shares may not mean much in politics, yet how electorally formidable this alliance can be, can well be gauged from the Assembly bypoll outcomes.
Party Vote Share +/-
SP 48.87% +27.12
BJP 46.53% -5.27
Party Vote Share +/-
SP 46.95% +26.62
BJP 38.81% -13.62
The good showing by SP and the decline in BJP’s performance is clear from these two outcomes. SP, which got only 21.75% vote share in Gorakhpur in 2014, got 27.12% higher vote share at 48.87% in 2018, just four years later.
In Phulpur, BJP lost 13,62% vote share while SP added 26.62 % vote share, going up to 46.95%.
Remember, that in both these seats, Congress contested separately.
All these figures go to show what an impact an alliance between the SP and BSP can have in a state like UP. Which is why the BJP is looking worried and has got after Akhilesh Yadav in an alleged mining scam. The 10% reservation for forward castes is also being seen as a consequence of the saffron party’s nervousness about this growing ‘new friendship’ between the SP and BSP.