Resurgent Congress leaves SP, BSP cagey in Uttar Pradesh?

Akhilesh and Mayawati remained conspicuous by their absence despite their support to the grand old party in touching the majority mark in MP and Rajasthan.

Published: 18th December 2018 12:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2018 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with newly sworn-in Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and other party and opposition leaders during the oath-taking ceremony of Baghel's cabinet in Raipur on 17 December 2018. (Photo | PTI)

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with newly sworn-in Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and other party and opposition leaders during the oath-taking ceremony of Baghel's cabinet in Raipur on 17 December 2018. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: The absence of two major political players of Uttar Pradesh – Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati – in the swearing-in ceremonies of three newly-elected CMs took the wind out of Congress’s sail on Monday.

Though the ceremonies at Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh were attended by a bevy of opposition leaders but it could not be as dazzling an opposition’s carnival as it was at the oath-taking ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka in May this year. 

Both Mayawati and Akhilesh had shared the dais at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in in a show of opposition bonhomie at Bengaluru. While the confident and resurgent Congress was contemplating to use the occasion to showcase the ‘united colours’ of opposition once again ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh and Mayawati remained conspicuous by their absence despite their support to the grand old party in touching the majority mark in MP and Rajasthan.

However, while extending support to Congress, both the regional satraps had made it amply clear that they were supporting Congress just to keep the BJP out of power at any cost. Mayawati in no uncertain terms had claimed that though she did not agree with the policies, ideology and the way of Congress’s
governance yet was backing it to keep the saffron party at bay.

READ | Akhilesh Yadav maintains suspense over Congress’s participation in SP-BSP alliance

However, the political pundits in UP believe that by keeping away from the Monday events, both the regional satraps have stuck to their earlier stand. “It could be a pressure tactics to keep the resurgent Congress in check in UP,” says JP Shukla, a prominent political commentator. The political observers also attribute the absence of Akhilesh and Mayawati in Congress’ big day to their stance that Congress is a non-entity in Uttar Pradesh what if it has won three peripheral states of Hindi heartland.

 “If UP will be dominated by caste politics during 2019, SP and BSP will be its mainstay and if it will take a religious colour, BJP will call the shots. Congress doesn’t fit in any of the two frames,” says JP Shukla. He adds that both the regional parties are keeping a safe distance from Congress in order to keep its bargaining power in check in UP.

ALSO READ | Joining a Congress-led alliance one of many options: RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha

Notably, SP and BSP have been critical of Congress since they failed to clinch a truck with it in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. While SP won a single seat in MP, BSP romped home with 2 seats in MP
and 6 in Rajasthan. The blue brigade had sprung a surprise by aligning with Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh.

Significantly, both party leaders had skipped the opposition congregation where 21 parties had met under the Congress’s leadership in Delhi recently.

As per the highly-placed sources, Congress had offered the BSP to join the governments both in MP and Rajasthan to consolidate the opposition unity but Mayawati has been observing a guarded silence over the issue.

READ | Tamil Nadu’s communist parties ready to endorse Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister candidate for 2019

“The way DMK chief MK Stalin made a sudden statement over Rahul Gandhi as prospective PM candidate has left certain sections of opposition, including SP and BSP, unnerved and uneasy,” says Ashutosh Mishra, a political scientist.

Mishra adds a new dimension to the debate by claiming that SP and BSP were finding it difficult to adjust to new power equation in UP with resurgent Congress in the arena. “Now they will have to re-caliberate their strategy vis-a-vis mahagathbandhan in UP,” he maintains.

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