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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Bound by a common cause now but SP, BSP poles apart in many ways

Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have inherent differences in ideology, age and experience that may become the cause of conflict.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2019 15:28 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Singh Yadav at a joint press conference in Lucknow on Saturday.
Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Singh Yadav at a joint press conference in Lucknow on Saturday.((Subhankar Chakraborty/HT photo))

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the SP (Samajwadi Party) may have come together once again after 26 years to fight their common political rival the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha elections but the alliance partners may work poles apart if the post-poll situation so demands.

Besides having a different style of functioning, the ‘bua’ and ‘bhatija’ (aunt and nephew) duo of BSP national president Mayawati (62) and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (45) has inherent differences in ideology, age and experience.

(READ: What Uttar Pradesh partners BSP, SP need to watch out for)

A common vote bank to work for to some extent, coupled with personal ambitions and rising aspirations of partymen, may ultimately become a cause of conflict even if the two leaders decide to take the alliance forward after the Lok Sabha election.

Mayawati is considered a shrewd politician. She, along with the BSP ideologue the late Kanshiram, is a founder of her party. Despite forming government with the party’s support thrice, Mayawati had kept the BJP on tenterhooks and broke the alliance on her own and cultivated the image of a strong administrator.

(READ: Why Congress was left out of the BSP, SP alliance)

Akhilesh, on the other hand, has cultivated the image of a mild-mannered leader who remains accessible even to his adversaries. But unlike Mayawati, Akhilesh does not have the advantage of being a party founder. Having inherited the party from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh will have to tread cautiously and know ‘how close will not be too close’ with the BSP while keeping the BJP at bay. He will have to keep a close watch on the dissenting leaders aspiring for ticket on seats going to BSP quota. His uncle and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party chief Shivpal Singh Yadav has inducted many disgruntled SP leaders into his party. He may do so again and field them in poll to cut into votes of newly formed alliance.

As Uttar Pradesh chief minister (2012-2017), he tried to undo what Mayawati had done as his predecessor (2007-2012). Besides restoring original names to districts and institutions that Mayawati had renamed, Akhilesh Yadav had consistently attacked the BSP government for dividing the bureaucracy and bringing up memorials instead of working for the development of Uttar Pradesh.

This was mainly because of the compulsions of the politics that he had inherited from his father and then SP chief. Despite being erstwhile partners of an alliance government formed in 1993 under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s leadership, the BSP and the SP had become sworn enemies after the state guesthouse incident of June 2, 1995. The BSP had accused the SP (then headed by Mulayam) of kidnapping BSP MLAs and making an attempt on Mayawati’s life at the state guest house on June 2, 1995.

A change in SP leadership and the rise of a stronger BJP on the national political scenario led to new possibilities and an alliance between two estranged partners was considered an option to counter the BJP. The by-election to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in March 2018 brought the two sworn political rivals close and provided them an opportunity to defeat the BJP together. On Saturday too, Mayawati referred to State Guest House incident twice and said she was keeping the past aside to form and alliance to defeat the BJP.

Both the BSP and SP have deviated a bit from their ideological planks to assume power. Mayawati is often charged with diluting her Dalit agenda to take other sections of the society along. Akhilesh Yadav too has tried to move beyond some of his father’s policies when the situation has so demanded.

Mulayam had worked on the formula of equidistance from the Congress and the BJP.

Although Mulayam sought and extended outside support to the Congress on many occasions, he kept the Congress at a considerable distance and did not align with the party. Akhilesh, on the other hand, decided to align with the Congress in the 2017 assembly elections despite opposition from Mulayam.

While Mayawati did not hesitate in taking action against her own partymen to give a firm message on the law and order front, the Akhilesh Yadav government always remained in opposition’s firing line for ‘poor law and order situation’ in the state.

First Published: Jan 12, 2019 14:56 IST

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