Basking in their Bihar success, allies Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad have set their sights on Uttar Pradesh and appear interested in looking beyond Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party to explore the possibility of a tie-up with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The BSP trounced the ruling Samajwadi Party and made a surprise comeback in the recent local bodies’ election in Uttar Pradesh. In his discussions with party leaders late last month, Nitish is understood to have shared his views about a rise in Mayawati’s graph and a dip in the Samajwadi Party’s popularity in Uttar Pradesh.
“We are serious about UP this time and believe Mayawati would be a better partner than Mulayam. The discussions amongst us are at a primary stage. But we intend to move in that direction,” a JD(U) leader privy to the deliberations told HT.
JD(U) leaders claim Lalu, a close relative of Mulayam, is in agreement with Nitish’s view.
The JD(U) and the RJD -- along with four other socialist parties -- had in April announced a desire to come together under the Janata Parivar and elected Mulayam as their leader. The plan received a setback in Bihar when Mulayam pulled out of the alliance during the election in September and went to the extent of accusing Nitish of crushing the dreams of Ram Manohar Lohia by teaming up with the Congress.
Nitish, the source said, was hurt with Mulayam’s decision to quit the Janata Parivar in the middle of the election and is of the view that any alliance with the SP would be akin to “insulting” the Bihar verdict.
Since the 1993 and 1996 alliances with the SP and the Congress respectively, Mayawati has never got into a pre-poll agreement. BSP leaders say Mayawati has been of the view that a pre-poll pact helps the alliance partner with complete transfer of her vote base without similar results from the other side.
Unlike the SP and the Congress, the JD(U) and the RJD do not have much of a presence in Uttar Pradesh to turn into a potential threat to Mayawati. Nor would they have an issue in accepting Mayawati as chief minister.
The BSP has relatively low presence in eastern UP -- a stronghold of the SP and the BJP -- and the two Bihar parties may come to her aid there. Besides, all three will have common enemies in the SP and the BJP.
If an alliance materialises, Mayawati will get an opportunity to penetrate the two crucial Yadav and Kurmi vote banks without shelling out too many seats for the partners. That would hurt the SP and the BJP. However, the Yadavs and Kurmis of the two states have traditionally preferred leaders of their own states than neighbouring ones.
(With inputs from HTC Lucknow)