Akhilesh and Mayawati have formed a formidable alliance but challenge lies in transferring votes
There are lessons to be learnt from the past. After its first alliance with the SP in 1993, the BSP entered into a pre-poll pact with the Congress in the 1996 UP assembly elections.Updated: Jan 12, 2019 19:00 IST
Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have formed a strong alliance opting for a 50:50 distribution of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats for 2019 elections, but transferring of traditional votes to each other won’t be that easy.
There are lessons to be learnt from the past. After its first alliance with the SP in 1993, the BSP entered into a pre-poll pact with the Congress in the 1996 UP assembly elections. They failed to win a majority and form government. A few months later, Mayawati dumped her pre-poll partner to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and form government.
As Mayawati said on Saturday, the Congress had failed to transfer its votes to BSP candidates.
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Similarly, her experiments in government formation in an alliance with the BJP ended in strife and stress.
The lessons the SP has learned from alliances have been no different. While their leaders exchanged flowers and sent the right messages to their cadre, transferring votes will remain a major challenge.
Mayawati said she had left behind the 1995 state guest house episode, when she was abused and beaten up by SP workers angered by her decision to pull out of an alliance with their party. SP president Akhilesh responded, “Her insult will be my insult.”
Perhaps, at a personal level, time has been the best healer.
The question whether they will succeed in transferring their votes to each other in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is still valid. The Yadavs and Dalits have been traditional rivals in UP’s agrarian society.
The answer perhaps lies in the neighbouring state of Bihar, where Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar won the 2015 assembly elections together despite years of animosity between their main base vote base — the Yadavs and Kurmis, respectively. This was possible as the two leaders had diligently worked together to bring their estranged cadre under one banner. Nitish, however, did dump Lalu two years later.
In the same Bihar, an alliance between Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu in the 2010 assembly polls had failed to such an extent that even the RJD chief’s wife Rabri Devi lost her seat. In the words of Paswan, “They (Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal) had no heart-to-heart connection.”
According to sources in the SP and the BSP, Akhilesh and Mayawati may address a few rallies together in different parts of the state. In 1993, BSP founder Kanshi Ram and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh addressed a couple of meetings together, but later decided to hold independent shows.
Even in 2017, the alliance between Congress and SP failed to percolate down to the grassroots in the absence of joint rallies. Party workers became inactive in constituencies contested by their partner.
But now that the core voters of both the SP and the BSP are feeling marginalised in the current BJP dispensation, their coming together may prove much easier than before. That was reflected in last year’s Lok Sabha by-elections. Camaraderie between their cadre helped them win Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
If this camaraderie prevails in the coming months at the ground level, the two leaders can easily upset the BJP’s applecart.