By giving a miss to the UPA’s ninth anniversary celebrations, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has dropped enough hints that it is distancing itself from the Congress ahead of the next general elections.
But is bitter political rival in Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), promptly seized the opportunity by joining the function that gave some cheer to the Congress.
Positioning itself closer to the Congress, the BSP deputed two senior leaders Satish Chandra Mishra, a close aide of party chief Mayawati, and Brajesh Pathak.
Their presence, however, could not compensate for the last year’s show when SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav surprised all by not only joining the UPA stage but also photographed himself holding the government’s report card. He later shared the high table with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
But this time, he not only chose to stay away despite being in Delhi but also did not depute any representative from his party to the last such function before 2014 polls.
The SP calculation is that its perceived closeness with the Congress will adversely impact its electoral prospects in UP, particularly because Yadav fancies himself as a potential prime ministerial candidate in the event of a hung Lok Sabha.
Even UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav indicated that much has changed since 2012.
“We Samajwadi people are never in agreement with Congress policies. But when it is a question of tackling communal forces, we support Congress,” he said.
Though the SP is in favour of early polls, sources said the party will not withdraw support and face the charge of pulling down a “secular” government.
In comparison, Mayawati’s vote-bank remains intact regardless of her political alliances at the Centre. The BSP chief also does not favour early elections. She is convinced that delayed polls would help her party reap rich electoral harvest, as the BSP’s perception is that the image of the Akhilesh Yadav government, which is facing flak on governance issues, would get further eroded in coming months.
Congress leaders are also confident that Mayawati will give the UPA the required cushion in the numbers game to prevent the premature fall of the government.
The dependence of the Congress on the two UP parties has increased after the exit of two key UPA constituents, Trinamool Congress and DMK.