Over the past two years rival political parties have joined hands, in some cases successfully, to take on the BJP in assembly elections in different states.
The tie-ups may have underlined the urgency and the desperation in the Opposition camp, but they also have the potential to grow into a national alliance against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general elections.
On Sunday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav kept the doors open for such pacts. “It’s possible,” they said when asked about a SP-Congress alliance in 2019.
Ironically, days before the two parties firmed up an alliance for the assembly polls, Gandhi, for the first time, spoke about 2019 general elections at a party meet. “Aachche din that Modi promised will come once Congress voted to power,” he said, hinting at the next Lok Sabha polls.
In 2015, the Congress chose ride piggyback on the JD(U)-RJD alliance in Bihar when arch rivals Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad joined hands to fight the BJP in Bihar.
Last year, it was content as the junior partner to the Left in the West Bengal assembly polls, indicating that it may no longer have a “superiority complex” when negotiating with potential allies in places where the party is weak.
Gandhi was also quick to make course-corrections: after the poor results of the Left-Congress combination in the Bengal polls, he was ready to do business with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who swept the polls. Gandhi and Banerjee even addressed a joint press conference in Delhi last month along with six other parties even though some other Opposition parties stayed.
A good result in the UP elections for the SP and the Congress would only bolster chances for another UPA-style grand alliance involving these two parties along with the likes of the JD(U), RJD, Trinamool and the National Conference.