LUCKNOW: With the outcome of the big battle of 2019 just a day away, all parties have gone into a huddle to review their seat-by-seat performance in India's most crucial state. While the ruling BJP banks heavily on its UP show to cross the magic line, SP-BSP-RLD alliance has much more at stake. For them, it's a matter of survival and political grace.
SP and BSP buried their 25-year-old rivalry and joined hands to stop the saffron juggernaut. They also roped in Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and firmed up their alliance relying on the caste maths, expecting the consolidation of their respective constituencies – Yadav, Dalit, Jat and Muslim -- in their favour against the BJP.
However, if the exit polls results hold true, the 2019 elections could prove to be a case study for political pundits to re-analyse the relevance of caste, creed and community in Indian politics.
Besides, even impact of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whose entry into UP's political landscape was considered Congress's Brahmastra, would also be under the lens of political observers.
In the given scenario, while the BJP and Congress had to focus on their core voters and woo other chunks as much as possible, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance witnessed a dual challenge. On one hand, the parties had the onus to take the gathbandhan to the ground till the cadre level to ensure complete transfer of vote to each other. On the other, they had the task to win back those castes which had drifted towards the BJP in previous few elections.
Meanwhile, the Congress factor was equally important for the alliance to handle as it was playing a ‘vote katuwa’ for both the BJP and gathbandhan on different seats making the contest interestingly triangular.
Taking the challenge head-on, the gathbandhan leadership treaded quite cautiously all through the election campaign. Since UP sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha, it was an onerous task for all the parties to make the choice of candidates keeping seat-by-seat caste calculations in mind.
To strike a genuine bonhomie between the SP and BSP cadre, booth level coordination committees were set up. Both Akhilesh and Mayawati directed their respective leaders to be cautious while giving statements from campaign platforms. This resulted in bringing the workers of the two parties together at the ground level putting the decades’ old animosity behind.
Moreover, during the campaign, over a dozen joint gathbandhan rallies left a major impact on voters across the state. It emerged as a big challenge for the BJP which kept its focus mainly on OBCs and repeated its strategy of tying up with a number of small outfits in eastern UP.
The outcome of 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh and the performance of the gathbandhan will provide an opportunity to assess the direction of the caste politics in Hindi heartland. Even more, it will help the political pundits to infer if castes are still an important factor in UP politics.