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BJP’s Phulpur, Gorakhpur loss paved way for Akhilesh-Mayawati coalition

The SP’s victory in Gorakhpur and Phulpur galvanised both the parties into action.

lok sabha elections Updated: Jan 12, 2019 08:51 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
SP-BSP alliance,Samajwadi party,BJP
The victory of the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates, backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in March 2018 proved to be a turning point in Uttar Pradesh politics. (PTI)

The victory of the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates, backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in March 2018 proved to be a turning point in Uttar Pradesh politics.

Not only did it stop the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election juggernaut, but it also set the ball rolling for a long-term alliance between the one-time arch rivals.

Barely 10 days before the elections, BSP president Mayawati sprang a surprise by announcing her party’s support to SP candidates for both seats. The BJP tried to play down the impact of the alliance, saying both seats were its strongholds. While SP president Akhilesh Yadav campaigned in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur, BSP leaders chose to stay away.

Also Read | SP-BSP roller coaster: After 26 years, same alliance, same challenge

The SP’s victory in Gorakhpur and Phulpur galvanised both the parties into action. “Leaders of both the parties started putting pressure on their top leaderships for an alliance. BSP workers and office-bearers told the party chief that if she wanted to stop the BJP’s winning streak, then an alliance was the only solution,” said BSP general secretary Ramachal Rajbhar .

Though the BSP failed to open its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and faced a humiliating defeat in the 2017 assembly polls, Mayawati was reluctant to enter an alliance with the SP.

She hoped with a 21% vote share, the BSP would make a comeback in state politics, riding on the anti-incumbency factor against the BJP. A revolt by senior leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui, considered the Muslim face of the BSP, added to her woes.

Also Read | Why the SP-BSP alliance is key to 2019

The pressure on the SP leadership was equally strong. A revolt by senior leader Shivpal Singh Yadav weakened the SP in Etawah, Firozabad, Etah, Mainpuri and Kannauj.

To instil confidence among supporters, Akhilesh Yadav opted for an alliance, saying he was learning the arithmetic of alliance politics from the BJP.

First Published: Jan 12, 2019 08:43 IST

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