What does one make of the feelers that the “Babua” (Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav) has sent out to his “Bua” (Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati)?
If the exit poll outcomes are a true reflection of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election results, the Bharatiya Janata Party will emerge as the single largest party, but may fall short of a majority. A post-poll alliance between the SP and the BSP has suddenly cropped up as a realistic proposition.
Responding to the exit poll predictions on Thursday, Akhilesh made an oblique reference to the possibility of a tie-up with the BSP saying, “No, I cannot say anything on alliance, as we ourselves are going to form the government. And there is a leader of BSP whom I respect because of a relation. So it is natural for people to think that if there is a shortcoming, then we might go with the BSP or might form a government with the support of the BSP”.
Mayawati, in the past, has done business with both the BJP and the SP. In December 1993, the BSP supported the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led government, but withdrew support after a year and 181 days, leading to the infamous episode in 1995, when the BSP chief locked herself in a guest house to save herself from a rampaging SP mob.
For the last 22 years, the BSP and the SP have remained sworn political adversaries and have taken turns at assuming office in Lucknow. Will Saturday’s poll verdict provide an opportunity for leaders of the two parties to bury the hatchet?
A fractured verdict, as some pollsters predict, will change the political grammar in primarily two respects. One, it will become clear that the “Narendra Modi magic” alone cannot ensure a victory for the saffron party, across the Hindi heartland states in particular. Second, regional satraps will be forced to actively consider possibilities of aligning forces in line with the “Bihar model”.
If the UP verdict is to be seen as a “mini General Election”, the chances of a BJP-BSP alliance in Lucknow appear remote. With her “Dalit” support base slipping, Mayawati has been taking a crack at different social-engineering tactics in past few years, sometimes trying to woo the upper caste Brahmins, sometimes attempting to portray as a messiah of the Muslims.
In the just concluded elections, she fielded 103 Muslim candidates of the 403 seats BSP contested. At this stage, a possible decision on her part to align with the BJP will damage her standing with the new political constituency she has been trying to nurture, UP watchers say.
In case the SP-Congress front even retains the No. 2 spot in the UP assembly, it will become abundantly clear that the BSP has been the main victim of the renewed saffron surge sweeping the state since 2014.
“Can Mayawati take the risk of hastening the process of erosion of her political base further by aligning with the saffron party?” a veteran UP watcher wonders.
But the flip side is that the BSP chief’s compulsions also are to remain close to the power circuit in order to remain relevant. If a dream offer comes to her from the BJP, she could well be tempted.