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Yogi plays up SP-BSP rivalry of past

Adityanath referred to the Lucknow guesthouse incident of 1995 when Samajwadi Party workers had targeted Mayawati, who was rescued by the BJP cadres, to play up the rivalry further among UP’s two powerful regional players.

lucknow Updated: Mar 05, 2018 14:36 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi Adityanath,SP BSP,Uttar Pradesh
For the last two decades, BSP and SP have remained sworn political adversaries and have taken turns at assuming power in UP until BJP’s famous win in 2017. (HT)

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday cited Sufi poet Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana, one of Akbar’s Navratnas, to play on the traditional rivalry between the state’s main opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) amid the buzz of the two joining hands to defeat the BJP in the March 11 by-polls.

Adityanath referred to the Lucknow guesthouse incident of 1995 when Samajwadi Party workers had targeted Mayawati, who was rescued by the BJP cadres, to play up the rivalry further among UP’s two powerful regional players.

In December 1993, the BSP supported the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led government, but withdrew support after a year and 181 days, leading to the infamous episode in 1995, when the BSP chief locked herself in the guesthouse to save herself from a rampaging SP mob. She was rescued by BJP leaders and had formed a government with BJP but the alliance didn’t last long.

For the last two decades, BSP and SP have remained sworn political adversaries and have taken turns at assuming power in UP until BJP’s famous win in 2017.

“Kahu Rahim kaise nibhe ber ker ko sang … (how can the good and the bad exist together),” said Adityanath at the UP BJP office when asked to comment on the buzz that Mayawati had decided to direct cadres to support the SP in the by-polls.

The verse by Rahim which Adityanath cited uses the relationship between a ber (Indian jujube) plant and a banana one to drive the message about relationship between two opposite characters.

“Kahu Rahim kaise nibhe, ber ker ko sang/Ve dolat ras aapne, unke faatat ang (If ber or banana exist by side by side, they are bound to harm each other as ber plant has thorns while the banana one is soft. So when ber sways, it damages banana),” goes the couplet which Adityanath used to make a political point.

The BSP with its Dalit vote bank and SP with its Muslim-OBC vote formed a lethal political combination until the guesthouse incident after which the two became sworn enemies.

Political observers admit that efforts were on to bring the two together to stop the all-conquering BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The March 11 by-polls, where the BSP hasn’t put up candidates, could be the first test of that unity. Mayawati, in the past, has done business with both the BJP and the SP.

To thwart the possibility of anti-BJP OBC-Dalit combination, Adityanath also mentioned previous threats by some Samajwadi Party leaders to blow up memorials that were constructed by former chief minister Mayawati in memory of Dalit icons.

Adityanath, who held the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat since 1998, made the comment just before leaving for campaigning in the Phulpur by-polls. The Lok Sabha by polls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur were necessitated after Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya quit their LS seats and became members of the UP Legislative Council to meet the constitutional provision.

Although the BJP is on a roll and buoyant, especially after its phenomenal success in the north east, the party is aware that is has suffered upsets in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by-polls.

“That’s why the BSP and the SP are desperately seeking a relationship to thwart the BJP,” said political analyst SK Dwivedi.

On his part, Adityanath said that the BJP would win the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats by a considerable margin, though party leaders admit that despite Modi wave, SP-BSP unity won’t serve “BJP’s interests.”

While the BJP is reasonably confident in Gorakhpur, a seat which Adityanath has been winning since 1998, it’s Phulpur, where Keshav Prasad Maurya opened the BJP’s account in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, that the BJP could be jittery, especially if the Dalit-OBC-Muslim alliance of the SP-BSP comes about, say party insiders. Dismissing reports of resentment among BJP workers over the government not listening to their problems, Adityanath said, “Unlike the SP, we are a disciplined party.”

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 14:36 IST