It’s too early to talk about grand alliance in UP
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It’s too early to talk about grand alliance in UP

Social and political equations have changed since the first-ever Bahujan Samaj alliance in the early 1990s managed to stop the BJP in its tracks in Uttar Pradesh. However, the saffron party’s latest winning spree could revive the political alliance, say experts.

opinion Updated: Mar 06, 2018 23:04 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP,BJP,State elections
BJP supporters carry out a victory rally after the party won the Tripura Assembly election, in Agartala on Sunday. The party’s latest round of electoral wins has political opponents scrambling to form an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. (PTI File Photo)

Political and social equations have changed drastically since the early 1990s when the first-ever alliance of “Bahujan Samaj”, represented until then by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), stopped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its tracks in Uttar Pradesh.

That had a ripple effect on the BJP’s national ambitions after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

The social alliance scripted by BSP founder Kanshi Ram and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav collapsed before they could celebrate the second anniversary of their maiden political victory. The “Bahujan Samaj” disintegrated.

“After the violent collapse of the SP-BSP coalition government in 1995, Yadavs and Dalits became foes at political and social levels. Their personal aspirations for larger political space soared. Rebuilding Dalit-Yadav chemistry is going to be a challenge,” political expert Badri Narayan says.

Alarmed by the BJP’s winning spree since the 2014 general elections, the two regional forces that ruled the state from 1993 to 2017 — independently or in alliance — may revive the 1993 political coalition after testing the waters in two bypolls on March 11.

“It is a neck-and-neck contest here after the BSP’s support to the SP. Mayawati has a support base, her party has been getting about 70,000-80,000 votes in elections. She still has the ability to transfer her votes,” says Rajesh Singh, a political analyst from Gorakhpur.

But two factors, besides booth management, may favour the BJP, he says. These are Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s emotional appeal.

An SP leader from Allahabad, Vinod Chand Dubey, says the BSP’s support has made the contest interesting. “Earlier, there was no fight.”

The SP and the BSP have no major stakes in the parliamentary elections, barring reviving the morale of the cadre and retaining their support bases. They are looking beyond. Party leaders admit the urgency to stop the BJP is crucial to their survival in the 2022 assembly elections.

But success in either of the two Lok Sabha seats — Gorakhpur and Phulpur — may work as a catalyst, bringing the Congress and other parties on board to build a Bihar-style grand alliance for 2019.

Political experts do not rule out a grand alliance, provided the Congress plays a pivotal role and climb down from its grandstand of winning UP independently.

The bypoll arrangement is a give-and-take pact, not an alliance, according to Narayan. Mayawati “is a tough negotiator. Let’s watch out”, he says.

Changed Scenario

The BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have been consistently making inroads in the Dalit vote bank, sometimes by appropriating Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, and at times by dining with Dalits. They tasted success too – in 2012 and 2017 assembly elections and in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

According to a study conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the BSP’s Dalit support base went down by about 23% in 2014 and that has not changed since. This forced Mayawati to dump her “Sarvjan Samaj” mission and revert to her slogan of “Dalit empowerment”.

The CSDS data show the BSP witnessed a 16% decline in its Jatav support base in 2014. Her loss was the BJP’s gain.

Similarly, Yadavs were driven by the Hindutva slogan of the BJP in 2014. Division in Muslim votes between the two regional players helped the BJP.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 22:55 IST