SP, BSP divide seats equally, but Mayawati dominates the alliance

Mayawati’s preeminent position in the present electoral arrangement with the SP derives from the fact that the SP needs the BSP more than the BSP needs the SP

SP, BSP divide seats equally, but Mayawati dominates the alliance
SP, BSP divide seats equally, but Mayawati dominates the alliance

The fault lines between the vote-banks that the SP and the BSP nurture are deep and go back in time to several decades

Let there be no mistake: The equal distribution of seats between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party does not translate into equal status for the two parties in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The Press conference addressed jointly by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati gave sufficient indications of the fact that Mayawati is the dominant partner. Mercurial as she is, this does not bode well for the alliance’s longevity.

Mayawati was vocal in her criticism of the Congress, calling it corrupt and “sold out”. She also said that Congress brought nothing to the table

Yadav made his initial remarks at the Press meet through a prepared script. This was a departure, commentators observed, from his earlier habit of speaking extempore. Obviously, he wanted to make doubly sure that he did not say anything which would be construed as even remotely offensive to the BSP. Mayawati too stuck to a written statement, and yet she took the liberty of reminding Akhilesh of the infamous 1995 incident when a mob of SP supporters and elders had come close to lynching her. Unlike the cautious SP leader, she was not bothered about embarrassing him with that recollection, though she added that she was prepared to move on.

But Mayawati does not forget, nor does she easily forgive. She referred to the incident only to subtly remind Akhilesh Yadav that she was being magnanimous towards the SP for now and that she expected him to be beholden to her for such magnanimity. In that reminder lay other facts too, the most illuminative being that the BSP had thereafter tied up with the BJP and Mayawati had displaced Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP regime in Uttar Pradesh.

There are more indications of her dominance in the present arrangement. In the 2014 election, her party had ended up with zero seats while the SP got five. In the 2017 Assembly poll, her party had finished third, behind the SP. And yet she has today managed to get the same number of seats as the SP to contest the 2019 election.

Mayawati was vocal in her criticism of the Congress, calling it corrupt and “sold out”. She also said that Congress brought nothing to the table. But Akhilesh Yadav said nothing against the national party. This was another sign of the BSP leader taking the lead in setting the agenda for the alliance.

There were many reasons for that failure, one among them being Mayawati’s direct interference in the State government’s functioning which resulted in the collapse of the regime he led

Mayawati’s preeminent position in the present electoral arrangement with the SP derives from the fact that the SP needs the BSP more than the BSP needs the SP. Going by its track record, the BSP had a wide choice of potential allies. It has done business with both the Congress and the BJP in the past — it has had formal coalitions with the latter. On the other hand, the SP’s options are limited. It cannot go anywhere except to the Congress. But it had already burnt its fingers by aligning with the Congress for the 2107 Assembly election. Besides, Akhilesh faces a fresh challenge from the breakaway faction led by his uncle and one-time mentor Shivpal Yadav, who has floated his own outfit and has begun to make menacing noises in the SP’s backyard.

Akhilesh Yadav’s obeisance is not going down well among the SP’s rank and file, nor can it be a source of inspiration for its grassroots workers and supporters. A few voices have already begun to be heard in protest; one senior leader has remarked that it was a “mistake” Akhilesh Yadav had made and that Mayawati would play ball only as long as the SP chief bowed and scraped before her. As the 2019 poll draws near, it remains to be seen whether more voices of discontent will be raised in the public domain.

Interestingly, there has been no reaction from Mulayam Singh Yadav, founder of the Samajwadi Party, on the fresh developments. Of course, he has remained sidelined since the last four years, with son Akhilesh calling the shots after ousting him from the president’s post. Nearly 25 years ago, the senior Yadav had, along with BSP chief Kanshi Ram, stitched the first (and until recently only) SP-BSP alliance which collapsed less than two years later. There were many reasons for that failure, one among them being Mayawati’s direct interference in the State government’s functioning which resulted in the collapse of the regime he led. The underlying theme had been the Yadav-Scheduled Caste clashes.

The fault lines between the vote-banks that the SP and the BSP nurture are deep and go back in time to several decades. Have those been genuinely addressed through the alliance or have they been only papered over? Time will tell.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Rajesh Singh

Rajesh Singh

Rajesh Singh is a Delhi-based senior political commentator and public affairs analyst
Rajesh Singh

3 COMMENTS

  1. Dear LAP, I agree with all your observations but not your estimate on ‘ BJP ruled states’

    Except Chattisgarh, BJP is performing well in all other states – yes MP, Rajasthan including

    In fact BJP has won the Assembly Elections-2018 because the OVERALL VOTES polled by BJP in the entire State is more than that of Cong

    In Rajasthan too the OVERALL VOTES polled by BJP is just ONE LAKH less than that of Congress

    A lot of churning is needed in case of Chattisgarh where the situation is pretty bad & frightening

  2. In pure ARITHMETICAL terms SP+BSP should easily snatch 50+ seats in UP in LS-2019

    But, unlike ‘byepolls’, it is CHEMISTRY rather than ARITHMETICS that decides the outcome during General Elections for ‘State Assembly’ or ‘Lok Sabha’

    The CHEMISTRY FACTOR is MOST LIKELY to work in favour of BJP considering the following facts

    (1) Even those SP/BSP loyalists (or a large chunk of them) would prefer to press the button in favour of BJP because they wouldn’t like to deprive Modi who has progressive & positive Agenda & go in for an unknown PM

    (2) A large percentage of HARD CORE voters of SP / BSP have an inherent aversion/disdain towards each other & will choose not to vote in favour of the other regional party

    CHEMISTRY IS MOST LIKELY TO PLAY ITS ROLE AGGRESSIVELY BECAUSE PEOPLE NO LONGER WANT TO GO THROUGH THE NIGHT MARES OF A CONGRESS OR KICHDI SARKAR.
    MORE THAN ANYBODY PEOPLE OF UTTAR PRADESH HAVE REALIZED THIS

    • Narayanan Iyer, absolute Erector. Chemistry is gong to play a big role in LS elections. Issue with BJP ruled states is slackening of little bit law and order problems created by its rivals on caste lines. It seems almost all projects are being inaugurated in UP and probably 80% of the Ganga river cleaning
      shall be over by March 2019 and its inaugural points by PM will sound election bugle.
      PM should visit his mother once in a fortnight or keep her with him for several months to draw further strength and blessings.

      Caste based politics and family oriented political parties may vanish if BJP comes back to power with two thirds majority and PM should change half of his misleading team in 2019. Hindi in South India and Sanskrit as a second language in schools must be promoted.

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