Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati confirm 50:50 alliance to take on BJP in Uttar Pradesh
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow along with Akhilesh, Mayawati said the SP-BSP alliance “will give sleepless nights” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah.Updated: Jan 13, 2019 00:32 IST
Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Saturday announced an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which each will contest 38 seats in Uttar Pradesh, leaving two seats for the Congress and two for other smaller allies.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow along with Akhilesh, Mayawati said the SP-BSP alliance “will give sleepless nights” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath hit back, tweeting: “This is a coalition of casteist, corrupt and opportunistic mindset that doesn’t want development and good governance. Public knows everything and this unholy alliance will be given a perfect answer.” In Delhi,Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the alliance is for their survival and not in the interest of the country or Uttar Pradesh.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the SP had won five seats, while the BSP failed to win any. The BJP got 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal two seats out of the total 80.
The Congress won two --- Rae Barelli and Amethi; the two seats are held by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. In the 2017 assembly polls, SP and BSP got 22 % votes each while the BJP got 42.6% votes, winning 312 of the total 403 seats.
The SP-Congress alliance got 56 seats and the BSP was a distant third with 19 seats.
The BSP and SP joined hands during the parliamentary by-polls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur last year in which SP candidates backed by the BSP succeeded in winning both the seats . Gorakhpur had been vacated by Adityanath and Phulpur by deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya. In Kairana, the third by-poll in 2018, the two parties supported the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate,Tabassum Begum, who won.
As Mayawati said, the SP and BSP are looking to combine their vote bank, which primarily consists of about 22% Dalits, 45% other backward classes and 19 % Muslims in the politically crucial state.
Watch: ‘I will be happy’, says Akhilesh Yadav on Mayawati becoming the Prime Minister
This is not the first time the BSP and SP will contest elections in Uttar Pradesh in an alliance. Ahead of the 1993 UP assembly elections, BSP and SP veterans, Kanshi Ram and Mulayam Singh Yadav,respectively, announced an electoral alliance. Even though the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 177 seats, the SP (109) and BSP (67) formed the government.
This time they are pitted against a stronger rival. However, the parties have chosen not to include the Congress in their battle against the BJP, saying that there was no real gain in aligning with the party. “Congress party rule hasn’t benefitted anyone. There’s no real vote transfer from Congress and hence no real gain from aligning with Congress. We won’t ally with any party which will hurt our political ambitions,” said Mayawati.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai hours later, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he has “tremendous respect” for Mayawati and Yadav and “they have a right to do what they want to do”. “BSP and SP have made a political decision. It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity,” he said, according to PTI.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said would be a mistake to underestimate the party in UP, while a third party leader, Manish Tewari hinted that future partnerships could not be ruled out. “In so far as alliances are concerned, we have always believed that state-specific alliances, which further the progressive and the pluralistic ideal, which consolidate liberal ideas of India are the way forward and I think the space is open for that,” Tiwari said.
Political analyst Badri Narayan said the alliance may prove to be a game changer, damaging the BJP’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh. “But a lot will depend on whether there is adequate synergy between workers of SP and BSP,” he said.
The BJP said the SP and BSP “donating” two seats to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh showed the latter’s real worth. “Rahul Gandhi is dreaming to become prime minister, and prospective allies are donating just two seats to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. This is a telling statement on Congresss’ worth in this country,” BJP’s media department head Anil Baluni said. “As election approaches closer, Congress will be exposed to such situation in other states too.”
Akhilesh Yadav said the alliance had become necessary to bring down the arrogance of the BJP, and asked the SP?workers to unite with BSP. “I want to say to BJP?that they should know that we (SP-BSP) are in this together. I am grateful to Mayawati for giving me equal status. They should know any insult to Mayawati is my insult,” he said.
Among regional political leaders, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was the first to announce support for the alliance. “I welcome the alliance of the SP and the BSP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections,” she tweeted.
First Published: Jan 12, 2019 23:08 IST