SP-BSP Alliance: To Defeat BJP, Akhilesh Cedes Ground to Mayawati
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday, 21 February, announced the coalition’s seat-sharing plan for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Out of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, SP will contest 37 seats, BSP 38 and three seats were given to the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) . The remaining two seats are Congress strongholds Amethi and Raebareli, where SP and BSP have decided not to field any candidate.
With this arrangement, one thing is clear – SP President Akhilesh Yadav has conceded a lot of ground to bring this alliance into effect. It seems he wanted this alliance at all costs. The seat division is on the basis of 2009 Lok Sabha polls, and not the 2014 general elections.
Earlier, many believed that seats would be divided between SP and BSP on the basis of 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It would have meant that the party, which was the 2014 runner up, would have been given priority.
However, Thursday’s announcement makes it clear that Mayawati’s style of politics is likely to dominate the alliance.
In addition, the seats given to SP include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastions Varanasi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency), Lucknow (Rajnath Singh) and Kanpur (Murli Manohar Joshi). Apart from this, With Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics in eastern Uttar Pradesh, SP may have to contest against Congress heavyweights too.
Akhilesh Yadav might have been able to make Mayawati happy with this seat-sharing formula but he is yet to convince his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. The SP patriarch’s anger was palpable even before SP-BSP released their list.
This statement comes on the heels of Mulayam praising the PM in Lok Sabha and saying that he wants to see Narendra Modi as the prime minister once again.
There might be two reasons for Netaji’s anger. First, he is the one who had established the Samajwadi Party. He might wonder why the party is giving up as many as 43 seats in Uttar Pradesh. How will the party workers in those seats respond? The SP patriarch may not have said this out loud, but there’s reason enough to worry about party leaders switching loyalties to Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav, who had launched another party.
Secondly, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati have been arch rivals. Especially after the infamous ‘guest house scandal,’ it was believed that SP and BSP can never come together. This has obviously hurt him.
Still the BSP-SP alliance begs one crucial question: is it enough to take down BJP in Uttar Pradesh?