The social churning after the fall of Congress in 1989 brought several ad hoc alliances to power in Uttar Pradesh. That the state witnessed five assembly elections between 1989 and 2002 shows how viable they were.
If caste fragmentation marked Mulayam Singh's arrival in 1989, subsequent regimes saw marriages of convenience between Congress and BSP, BJP and BSP and SP and BSP.
Ideologies were compromised for tentative alliances to ward off fresh election.
Mulayam Singh and Mayawati represented the intermediate backward castes and Dalits respectively. Their shrill campaigns for their caste combinations led to backlash from others. Wisened, they began to look for support beyond the caste framework.
Mulayam Singh took a cue from Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar to work out the Muslim-Yadav or MY alliance. Mayawati, the most mercurial caste leader tried out alliances with all major players in UP. She even allied with BJP shedding her reservations about upper castes. The BJP accepted her offer to stay afloat after its post-Babri election drubbing.
Till his government perished in the aftermath of Babri demolition Kalyan Singh had implemented some administrative reforms and campaigned for Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Of his two stints, in 1991 and 1997, Kalyan Singh is selling the 1991 avtaar now. His own party would like to forget his second spell that ended abruptly after RSS intervened.
“The Kalyan Singh of ’97 was neither a democrat nor administrator (of the first stint). The few steps he took were pro-people. Corruption and parochialism rose considerably,” O.P. Sharma, an MLC who represents teachers, said.
Mayawati's first and last pre-poll alliance in UP was with Congress in 1996. She took over as senior partner to contest 296 seats, leaving 126 for Congress. While she transferred her Dalit vote to help Congress win 33 seats, Mayawati's tally of 67 showed the Congress could not transfer its upper caste and Muslim votes to BSP.
Mayawati has support of the Jatavs and Chamars. But the Passis, another most backward caste, have gone along with other parties because they feel Mayawati gave a preferential treatment to Chamars and Jatavs.
The Congress tried to go it alone and offer a remedy for “coalition fatigue”. It spurned Ajit Singh’s RLD and sought another important Jat leader, Mahendra Singh Tikait.
“We are looking beyond 2007 and strategising for 2009 Parliamentary elections,” Kapil Sibal, Union Minister and Congress media manager for Uttar Pradesh, said. Mulayam Singh is also getting TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha to campaign for his party. His party is apparently looking at a Third Front.
Mayawati is experimenting with Muslim, Brahmin Dalit combination that sustained Congress for over 45 years. She is trying to rope Muslims in western UP and Ruhelkhand.