In public, they are bitter enemies. But in the clandestine rendevouz of political dialogue, they are more than just pals. For the past few weeks, leaders of the Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party are holding several direct and indirect confabulations to strike an electoral pact for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. According to sources, Rahul Gandhi’s point person for Uttar Pradesh Madhusudan Mistry and Mayawati’s Brahmin face Satish Mishra have met frequently to discuss the sealing of the political marriage of convenience. Sources say that there is a consensus in both parties on the Congress and the BSP fighting the Lok Sabha elections together to defeat the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party who are intent on polarising UP along “communal” and caste lines.
According to the formula being worked out between Mistry and Mishra, the BSP will support Congress in all 22 seats the latter currently holds and BSP would contest the remaining 58 seats. Their calculation is that the alliance would get a combined total of around 40 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress is more eager for the tie up, since internal polls show that the party would get only between three to five seats in UP. The Congress expects a mass transfer of Dalit votes to go in its favour, if it contests in BSP’s company. The BSP’s expectation from the tie up is a large share of the Muslim votes, which would be cast to defeat BJP candidates wherever they are contesting against the BSP.
If the alliance happens, it would be the second time in 20 years the Congress and the BSP would be going to the hustings together. In 1996, when PV Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister, both parties had a pre-poll alliance in the UP Assembly polls. BSP founding president Kanshi Ram had forged the deal and the Congress fought 300 seats and the BSP just 125 out of 425 (at that time Uttarakhand was not created out of Uttar Pradesh) .The BSP could get just 67 seats, the Congress stood at 33.
The indication that Maya could consider an alliance with the Congress had surfaced in April at a rally in Chandigarh. She had declared that BSP would continue to support the Congress to “keep communal forces at bay” and that the party should always be ready for elections. Mayawati helped Congress through many hiccups in Parliament: the Food Security ordinance and Food Security Bill, the Land Acquisition Bill, Telengana and FDI in retail. On FSB, she had stated, “We believe that bringing the bill into Parliament is the correct decision. We will support the bill, but will also make some suggestions in Parliament so that the poor people can benefit to the fullest.” The BSP had accused the UPA of hustling the land acquisition bill through in Parliament with an eye on upcoming elections; however, Mayawati said in the Rajya Sabha that she supported the bill because it seeks to provide more compensation to farmers whose land is taken over for infrastructure development.
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