Victory brought them close, defeat closer
Lok Sabha bypoll victory had brought two estranged partners of the past, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), close. And now, the BSP candidate’s defeat in the Rajya Sabha poll appears to have pushed them closer in Uttar Pradesh.
A day after the Rajya Sabha polls, the SP and the BSP leaders signalled a strengthening relationship and gave indications of contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls together.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had visited BSP chief Mayawati’s residence after the SP defeated BJP candidates in byelection to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats (with the BSP’s support), leaving behind the 23 year-old acrimony. The SP, thereafter, committed its extra votes to the BSP candidate BR Ambedkar in the biennial polls. The Congress too supported the BSP candidate, who eventually contested as a joint opposition nominee.
As the growing proximity between the SP and the BSP became a cause of increasing concern in the ruling alliance, the BJP fielded its ninth candidate to avenge the bypoll defeat.
“The Rajya Sabha elections in UP have exposed BJP’s true face. It has been misusing power, institutions and the money against the poor. The BJP’s conspiracy against election of a Dalit (BSP candidate) has strengthened unity between the SP and the BSP for forthcoming (2019) Lok Sabha elections,” said Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in a tweet.
Yadav’s tweet came within minutes of BSP chief Mayawati’s observations that the Rajya Sabha poll outcome will not have any impact on the growing proximity between the BSP and SP. “Rajya Sabha poll outcome will not have any impact on proximity between the BSP and SP. The BJP’s conspiracy (against BSP candidate) will prove costlier. The BSP and SP workers will now work even harder to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” said Mayawati, speaking to media persons here on Saturday.
As a gesture of solidarity with the BSP, the SP had called off celebrations for the victory of actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan as the SP candidate in Rajya Sabha elections.
Bahujan Samaj Party national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, too, had targeted the BJP for misusing the official machinery in the biennial elections. He said the BJP had a dislike for Ambedkar’s name and thus defeated the BSP candidate.
The BJP leaders had called the SP an ‘untrustworthy’ partner and made attempts to drive a wedge between the two parties with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The BSP with 19 members needed 18 extra votes for its candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls. The Samajwadi Party with 47 members had 10 extra votes. The BSP candidate could have emerged victorious with the support of Congress (7) and RLD (1) members. The BSP’s effective strength was reduced to 17 due to cross-voting by its MLA Anil Singh and denial of permission to BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari to reach Lucknow to vote.
Samajwadi Party MLA Nitin Agarwal, too, switched over to the BJP and one of the opposition votes was declared invalid.
In such a scenario, the party remained uncertain about the support of Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya and the SP’s allotment to BSP candidate came down to nine. The BSP candidate, however, got only 32 votes. The RLD has now expelled its MLA Sahendra Chauhan Ramala for not following the party’s directives to vote for the BSP candidate.
This indicates the BSP candidate got only eight extra votes from the SP.
Questions are being raised about possible cross voting in the SP or the BSP amid reports that two Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party MLAs too voted for the BSP candidate.