LUCKNOW: Burying their two-and-a-half decade long hatchet, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday announced their grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh sharing 38 seats each and leaving two for other smaller allies, if any, for upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Both the regional parties agreed not to field candidates on two seats -- Amethi and Rae Bareli-of Gandhi bastion without keeping the Congress in the tie-up.
UP sends 80 members to Lok Sabha. Addressing a joint press conference to announce the tie-up along with Akhilesh, BSP chief Mayawati said the SP-BSP alliance was set to give sleepless nights to both PM Narendra Modi and his disciple, the BJP chief Amit Shah.
"Yeh Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi tatha unke shishya Amit Shah, matlab dono guru-chele ki neend udane wali atii mahatvapoorna press conference hai (This press conference is very important as it will take the sleep of both PM Narednra Modi and Amit Shah away)," claimed Mayawati.
Given the exclusion of Congress the upcoming big battle, Uttar Pradesh could be expected to witness a triangular contest - BJP, Congress and SP-BSP alliance - making it equally tricky for all the sides. The given seat distribution can also mean that the seats to be left for RLD and other prospective partners will be spared from the Samajwadis chunk. In fact, during the joint press conference both Mayawati and Akhilesh cautiously avoided naming RLD as ally despite Chaudhary Ajit Singh's claim of being very much a part of grand alliance on Friday evening.
Notably, RLD has been demanding six seats - Baghapt, Mathura, Amroha, Bijnor, Hathras and Muzaffarnagar --to contest in western UP. The RLD chief had claimed that the decision on number of seats to be given to his party was yet to be decided. But the figure spelt out by Mayawati on Saturday reflects that RLD would not be given more than two seats, in case, SP was willing to spare one more to it.
On a pointed question on seat-sharing with the RLD in western UP, Akhilesh Yadav said the media would be informed about it in due course. In 2014, the BJP had won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh while its ally Apna Dal bagged two. The Samajwadi Party won five seats and the Congress two, while the BSP drew a blank. Calling the SP-BSP alliance a strong message about a political revolution of 2019, Mayawati, while reading out her statement, said: "This tie-up will lead the nation ahead on path guided by the constitution."
On the other, Akhilesh Yadav said that the alliance was imperative to bring down the soaring arrogance and haughtiness of the ruling BJP by ensuring its ouster."We have come together to rid the state and country of BJP's religion and caste politics.
This alliance was a must to destroy BJP, to defeat their arrogance. BJP can go to any extent to create differences in our workers, we must be united and counter any such tactic," he added. Taking an aggressive approach over Congress' exclusion, Mayawati said it was not of any benefit to either the SP or BSP as Congress failed to transfer its vote to the allies in toto. However, SP and BSP transferred their respective votes to each other with full honesty in totality.
However, the BSP chief called both Congress and the BJP birds of the same feather equally responsible for the exploitation of poor and downtrodden. The BSP chief could not hide the pain of guesthouse episode as she was seen overemphasising the fact that the SP-BSP alliance was stitched in national interest keeping the infamous 'guesthouse kand' aside.
"The 1993 alliance between the two parties could not survive due to some grave reasons, but, now in national interest, we have kept those issue, especially, June 2, 1995 guest house episode aside, and have again come together to defeat the divisive political powers who have created an atmosphere of intolerance in the country," maintained the BSP chief.
However, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav cautioned his party men to respect BSP chief at every cost saying any amount of disrespect to Mayawati would amount to his own insult. Both the leaders said that the alliance, though cobbled up for Lok Sabha elections, it would be a long term political understanding going even beyond 2022 UP Assembly polls. It may, however, usher the politically most crucial state into an ear of coalitions again after a decade and a half of single-party rule.
"Yeh lamba chaleyga, aagey bhi chaleyga, Lok Sabha chunav ke baad, UP Assembly mein bhi hum sath sath ladenge. Yeh sthayee chalega (This will last long, even beyond LS polls and in UP Assembly elections)," hoped Mayawati.
When asked if he would support Mayawati as the future Prime Minister of India if such a scenario cropped up, Akhilesh remained evasive saying: "Everyone knows whom I am going to back. There have been a number of PMs from UP. I will like that this time also UP makes the PM," he stated. Akhilesh's statement assumes significance that till last year he had been projecting his father and SP patriarch the Prime ministerial candidate of any grand alliance.
Meanwhile, reacting to the SP-BSP alliance, while UP CM Yogi Adityanath claimed it to be an alliance being stitched up by those unprincipled forces who were scared of the BJP success, UP Deputy CM Keshav Maurya called it an alliance of 'opportunism and goondism'.
"Let me make it clear that people are solidly behind Modi and the BJP will do better than it did in 2014. The backward community is backing PM Narendra Modi,-" he said at the national convention in Delhi.