Former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. (Source: PTI)

Congress Out Of SP-BSP Alliance In UP, But There’s Little Reason For BJP To Cheer

The one-time bitter rivals of Uttar Pradesh politics, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party, agreed to an alliance ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. That may not spell good tidings for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The reason lies in their numerical advantage: the two parties together polled 42 percent of votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha election; had they struck an alliance then, it’s unlikely the BJP would have won 71 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Interestingly, Congress which polled 7.5 percent of the votes in 2014 has been left out of the alliance, even though all three parties have the same goal of keeping the BJP out of power.

Political analyst Neerja Chowdhury attributed this to an “inner understanding” between the SP-BSP combine and the Congress. In the recent bypolls at Phulpur and Gorakhpur, the combine that defeated the BJP didn’t have an official alliance with the Congress.

Congress Out Of SP-BSP Alliance In UP, But There’s Little Reason For BJP To Cheer
Brahmins, who traditionally used to be with the Congress and then moved to the BJP, are feeling a sense of restiveness and looking for greener pastures. What happens if the Congress goes alone and fields upper-caste Brahmin candidates to dent the BJP’s vote bank?
Neerja Chowdhury, Political Analyst

While the BSP supremo has been unsparing in her criticism of the Congress of late, Akhilesh Yadav of the SP has been measured with his comments. Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal attended a recent conference with Akhilesh, in which he downplayed Congress’ exclusion from the alliance. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, too, didn’t seem too perturbed either.

Congress Out Of SP-BSP Alliance In UP, But There’s Little Reason For BJP To Cheer

“It’s a lot of sabre-rattling going on,” said Sandeep Shastri, national coordinator for the Lokniti network. The SP and BSP announced their alliance after seat sharing negotiations with the Congress failed. Both parties will now contest 38 seats each, leaving Gandhi strongholds Rae Bareli and Amethi for the Congress.

I wouldn’t be surprised if within a month or two there is some broad level agreement arrived at within these parties
Sandeep Shastri, National Coordinator, Lokniti Network

The Congress has had a dismal track record in Uttar Pradesh in the last few elections and could bag just two seats—Amethi and Rae Bareli—in the last general election, but their performance is likely to improve this time, said political analyst Sharat Pradhan, who has tracked Uttar Pradesh politics for decades. “Congress isn’t as down in the dumps now,” he said, adding that the national party can’t be wished away especially after its recent victories in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan elections.

Watch the full conversation here: