LUCKNOW: As the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for the big and most interesting battle of 2019 on Sunday, the resolve of the opposition to pose a united face to take on the ruling BJP leaves much to be desired in Uttar Pradesh.
Significantly, just on the day of announcement of polls, another alliance of three-four smaller outfits based on caste and led by Peace Party cropped up and that can at best split opposition votes in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Among the key players, Akhilesh Yadav -led Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) stitched an alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Chaudhury Ajit Singh in tow, the likely solitary run of the Congress, despite right noises from both sides, hardly appears to solve the opposition cause in the state. Where BJP had won 71 of 80 seats under the sweeping Modi wave in 2014.
Ending animosity of two and a half decades, SP and BSP joined hands hoping to stall the saffron juggernaut. Pushed to the wall by a resurgent BJP, the two regional parties – SP and BSP-- have decided to contest on 37 and 38 seats respectively with and RLD on three.
In fact, the SP-BSP-RLD grand alliance is banking upon the voting pattern which if remains as of 2014, they may cut out half of the seats from BJP pie of 71. However, had Congress been included in the alliance, the mahagathbandhan could have dominated on two third seats.
However, more than the poll issue, the success of alliance would depend on the ability of allies to transfer votes to each other. While SP is already out with its first list of candidates, Mayawati may make public any time soon.
Congress, elbowed out of the SP-BSP alliance, is hoping to repeat its 2009 performance piggybacking Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s charisma and magic. Having already declared 11 of its candidates—all stalwarts including Sonia Gandhi and chief Rahul Gandhi, the party is expected to declare candidates on remaining seats out of its core list of 30. This includes Kanpur, Lucknow, Lakhimpur, Barabanki, Gonda, Ghaziabad, Rampur, Aonla, Bareilly, Pratapgarh, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Sultanpur and Fatehpur Sikri among others. In all, Congress intends to contest around 60-65 seats in the state, leaving the rest for its smaller allies.
As far as ruling BJP is concerned, with a hugely strong organisation till the booth level, the party is focusing on ‘Mission 74,’ whereby, it aims at increasing tally of 2014 to 74 seats. Besides, the challenge posed by SP-BSP alliance, the party also has the growing discontent among its allies including Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) at hand to address.
The opposition, including the Congress, will highlight the farmers, youth, demonetisation and GST, apart from raising corruption issue through Rafale fighter jet deal.
Besides sustaining nationalist narrative woven around Pulwama and subsequent airstrikes, the BJP will flag out leadership crisis in opposition camp which is dealing with the problem of plenty. It will also keep its poll discourse focussed on the development, infrastructure push at the 11th hour, leadership of PM Narendra Modi and stability factor.
2014 at a glance:
POLL PERCENTAGE (Partywise)
BJP +Apna Dal: 43.63%
SP: 22.20 %
BSP: 19.60 %
SP and BSP combined: 42.12%
SEATS WON (Partywise)
Total seats: 80
BJP +allies contested: 80; Won: 73; Gained: 61
SP contested: 78; Won: 05; Lost: 18
BSP contested: 80; Won: 0; Lost: 20
Congress contested: 66; Won: 2; Lost 19
RLD contested: 08; Won: 0; Lost: 05