The buzz about town is that the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) concept has been superseded by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s “grand alliance” theory aiming for a consolidation of the secular political forces including the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), besides the Left parties.
Constituents of the UNPA including the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) are not enthused about the new theory, but this is another matter.
The SP’s overtures towards the Congress might well have been inspired by the political compulsions of the moment, but the move is also seen as an exercise in positioning for the 2009 Parliamentary elections.
In the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the SP’s vote share was around 25 per cent, while Mayawati’s BSP obtained 30 per cent and the Congress got 8 per cent of the vote share.
With speculations of an early Lok Sabha elections in the air, Congress and SP leaders are compelled to take a re-look at political arithmetic, particularly in UP. On the face of it, the Congress and SP — by combing their vote share — can halt the BSP juggernaut.
But this is easier said that done, a senior SP leader said. The party’s is apprehensive that by aligning with the Congress, an adverse political message will go out to its Muslim support base. It might be difficult for the party to explain its reasons for supporting “anti-Islamic” America on the Indo-US nuclear deal, said an observer.
The SP’s other compulsion is that it cannot be seen hopping over to support the Congress at the expense of its relations with long-trusted and “natural allies” of the Left parties.
Congress perceptions are that it was possible for Mayawati’s BSP to align with the BJP in the post-poll scenario, while the SP would find it imprudent to take that course. A formal or informal understanding with the SP might also help the Congress generate support amongst minorities in UP and elsewhere.
So far, one has had all the build-up: Mulayam Singh Yadav had proposed seat sharing with the Congress for the Karnataka assembly elections. He had gone on record to say that Mayawati was not a patch on “Indiraji” and “not even worth the dust of her feet. Film star Amitabh Bachchan, meanwhile, has also said that he would not come in the way of a possible Congress-SP rapprochement. The question remains: Will the SP bite the bullet?