Mayawati is trying to divert attention
With Ms Mayawati announcing that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest Uttar Pradesh by-polls alone, the grand alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh seems to be all but over. In a statement released on Tuesday, Ms Mayawati has said that unlike BSP supporters, core voters of the Samajwadi Party (SP) did not vote for SP-BSP candidates in elections. While Ms Mayawati hasn’t ruled out a future alliance, she has made it contingent on future struggles by SP workers against the BJP’s politics.
Her statement may be uncharitable towards the SP. Both in 2014 and 2017, when the BJP swept Uttar Pradesh, it was the SP which performed better than the BSP. It was also the SP which initiated efforts to build a coalition against the BJP, first with the Congress in 2017 and then with the BSP. While the SP’s seat tally has remained the same in 2014 and 2019, the BSP has gone from zero to 10. As far as the larger question of the alliance doing badly is concerned, both the SP and the BSP would do well to pay attention to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement of chemistry defeating arithmetic in the 2019 elections. The biggest proof of this is that the BJP increased its 2014 vote share in Uttar Pradesh by 7 percentage points in 2019 to reach the 50% mark. This basically means that even if there had been a perfect transfer of 2014 votes between the SP and the BSP (around 42%), the alliance would still have lost on most seats.
Does the BSP not understand all this? Perhaps it does. By trying to attribute the poor performance of the grand alliance to non-transfer of core SP voters, Ms Mayawati is trying to divert attention from the behaviour of the common, non-Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh, who vastly outnumber core supporters of any party and have voted overwhelmingly for the BJP. To be sure, this is a trend not just in Uttar Pradesh, but most parts of north and west India.
Unless these voters desert the BJP, no arithmetic based alliance will be able to prevent the Narendra Modi juggernaut. The responsibility of failing to counter the BJP’s narrative, which has created this consolidation, lies as much with Ms Mayawati as with the other non-BJP leaders in the Hindi belt. No number of conspiracy theories can absolve the BSP chief of this failure.