SP-BSP rapprochement and challenges ahead

What made BSP chief Mayawati so desperate to extend the hand of support to Samajwadis leaving behind the fierce acrimony of over two decades?

Published: 10th March 2018 07:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th March 2018 07:58 PM   |  A+A-

BSP supremo Mayawati (File | PTI)

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: What made BSP chief Mayawati so desperate to extend the hand of support to Samajwadis leaving behind the fierce acrimony of over two decades? The plain and simple answer is, it’s her bid to overcome the existential crisis that has gripped her and her outfit alike. But the coming together of SP and BSP for 2019 elections is easier said than done.

After the infamous guesthouse incident in 1995 when she was allegedly held hostage by SP workers after her party pulled out of the Mulayam Singh Yadav’ government, she had vowed never to ally with his party again. But the saffron surge in 2014 and 2017 elections changed it all. Also because not only BSP, but all other non-BJP parties are facing a similar plight.

While SP had already realised the need to tie-up with Mayawati and Akhilesh had been dropping the feelers to the blue brigade for quite some time, the threat of slipping into political oblivion after the RS polls pushed Mayawati for rapprochement with the arch-rival.

Moreover, after losing three consecutive elections in 2012, 2014 and 2017, lying decimated with a duck in Lok Sabha in 2014 and meagre 19 MLAs in UP Assembly in 2017, it was impossible for her to get even a single BSP member elected to upper house without support. Moreover, the continuous exodus of majority of her lieutenants from the party has left her alone, isolated and politically vulnerable.

Even Mayawati’s clout among Dalits, especially Jatavs (a caste Mayawati belongs to), is also depleting consistently. Though BSP has been getting over 20% votes in respective elections but this vote share has not been converting into seats since 2012.

Similarly,  Samajwadis too are grappling with political route they faced in 2017. With just five members in Lok Sabha, outcome of 2017 UP polls came as a jolt to the beleaguered party, the first family of which has been caught in a fierce feud for over a year now.

In the given scenario, if this deal grows into a grand alliance with a dramatic twist to country’s politics at the thresh hold of 2019 LS polls, it would be fraught with a number of challenges to combat the resurgent BJP.

The main challenge will be to intercept BJP’s course which has been meticulously charted out by the RSS and the party is treading cautiously on it by winning non-Yadav backwards and non-Yatav dalits into its fold. Even more, the saffron forces have breached respective SP - BSP vote banks as was reflected in resounding saffron win in 2017 UP polls.

Though on the surface, any grand alliance may appear to be capable of making a difference with their combined vote share of over 50 per cent to beat BJP’s mighty march, but on the ground, the things would not be as simple. “The bypoll outcome would also decide the fate of any alliance in future,” says a senior SP leader of Shivpal camp on the condition of anonymity.

With Mayawati being a tough negotiator, the other biggest challenge before the alliance would be sharing of seats and distribution of tickets. The BSP chief has made it clear time and again that any alliance is possible “only” if her party gets respectable number of seats.

Stopping saffron ranks from polarising majority vote by portraying the alliance as ‘an all minority’ platform would be a tough task for alliance.

Even the traditional conflicts among the social groups identified with different alliance partners may make it difficult for them to work for each other. “It won’t be easy for the leaders to make their bonhomie percolate to cadre and voters at the ground level,” says social commentator SR Darapuri. 
The chances of leader locking up in personality clashes cannot be ruled out. It may be recalled that SP-BSP alliance of 1993 was a victim of political ambitions of the leaders of both parties and could not sustain even for two years.

Moreover , it will be another challenge for the alliance to strategise its fight well against invincible BJP. “It is no more an upper caste Hindu political outfit of 90s. It is now an inclusive Hindu organisation representing the majority sentiment in a more emphatic way than ever before,” says JP Shukla, a political observer. 

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