Way back in 1995, late Kanshi Ram, founder president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, told the media that it will be a wonder if Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, thirsty for each other’s blood, ever agreed for an alliance.
Two decades later, when ‘secular and socialist forces’ have come together under a fragile banner of Janata Parivar in Bihar to stop Narendra Modi’s juggernaut, his prophecy remains true for Uttar Pradesh where the two arch rivals — Mulayam and Mayawati — are unlikely to bury the hatchet for any cause.
Like Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, they had fallen off in 1995.
Ironically, Mulayam, who steered an incredible alliance of stubborn political minds in the neighbouring state to conquer communal forces, will in all likelihood fail in his ambitious venture in his home state, where it will require him to sink huge differences to stitch an alliance with an estranged partner.
To replicate the Bihar formula, the SP will have to close ranks with BSP as no other political combination is formidable enough to defeat the BJP.
This explains why the BJP leadership, caught against the mighty force of caste coalition in Bihar, is relieved as they don’t see any possibility of a similar meeting of political minds here.
Mulayam-Mayawati alliance would also mean consolidation of the minority votes. Even in the 1993 elections, held a year after the Sangh Parivar orchestrated the demolition of the disputed Ayodhya structure, the fledgling SP-BSP coalition defeated the BJP.
According to a senior BJP leader, the defeat in Uttar Pradesh shocked the high command.
Out of the five BJP states that went for the polls where the governments were sacked after the demolition of the disputed structure, BJP could retain only Rajasthan.
The October 2015 polls in the neighbouring state will have a direct bearing on Uttar Pradesh that will head for polls early in 2017.
All the three major claimants — the SP, BSP and the BJP — are gearing up for a fight at the block level.
Of them, the stakes of the BJP are the highest after the 2014 Lok Sabha conquest in which the party bagged 71 of the 80 seats.
According to political experts, the coming together of warring leaders does not necessarily filter down to their caste constituencies.
Already, scepticism prevails in Bihar about the Yadavs supporting the new coalition after Nitish Kumar, a Kurmi leader, was declared as the chief ministerial candidate.
The antagonism between two strong castes in UP — Dalits and Yadavs — is too intense to subside even if Mayawati and Mulayam decided to come together. But if the experiment is successful in Bihar, it can spark a similar demand in UP also.
Soon after Nitish Kumar closed ranks with Lalu Prasad, Lalu appealed to Mulayam and Mayawati to join hands for the sake of ‘garib-gurba’ (poor). Mulayam quickly dismissed it with, “If Laluji takes the initiative and brings Mayawati on board, I’ll have no objection.”
Now, when controversies plague the NDA government at the Centre and the BJP high command struggles to find a popular face in Uttar Pradesh, many in the party believe the going would be tough if the SP and BSP decide to sink their differences.
What if Kanshi Ram’s prophecy is proved wrong? Ask a BJP leader and he will dismiss it with, ‘impossible’.
Sunita Aron is the Senior Resident Editor of Hindustan Times. The views expressed are personal.