In Uttar Pradesh, Opposition nurses personal ambitions, but bound by common goal
From the beginning, there were many leaders in the Congress who did not favour an alliance with the SP and the BSP and were publicly criticising them; Rahul’s complimentary words for Akhilesh and Mayawati may now silence them, paving the way for better relations.opinion Updated: Feb 05, 2019 15:17 IST
In his interview with Hindustan Times, Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke about his respect for Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati and his party’s equation with the two big regional parties in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The three are stakeholders in the state’s “secular space” and share a common agenda of stopping the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory march in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
But they also have their own personal ambitions to revive their parties and rule the state after the 2022 assembly elections.
Much as they would prefer their independent space in the state’s electoral arena, their immediate needs compel them to bond together - first to checkmate the BJP, which decimated them in the 2014 general elections and 2017 assembly polls, and second, to keep the doors open for a post-poll arrangement.
“I personally respect Mayawatiji and Akhilesh Yadavji. I am fond of them. And in their own way, they have given tremendous service to this nation, particularly Mayawatiji. They have the right to partner with each other and come together to fight elections. We also have the right to say that we would like to fight for our ideology in Uttar Pradesh. We will work with the SP and the BSP because we have ideological agreement on a number of issues with them. But we are not going to give up our right to push our ideology in Uttar Pradesh either,” Gandhi said in the interview.
Although BSP chief Mayawati has not been sparing the Congress from her attacks, Akhilesh Yadav’s tone has been conciliatory, despite being cut up with the Congress leadership in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress-BSP relationship apparently soured after seat-sharing talks failed in the three states where assembly elections were held late last year.
While BSP leaders insist that the Congress kept deferring a decision despite several rounds of negotiations, the Congress had a problem with Mayawati’s heavy demands.
On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav was upset when the Congress did not make his lone party MLA a minister in Madhya Pradesh. However, he has been repeatedly calling Congress president Rahul Gandhi his friend.
From the beginning, there were many leaders in the Congress who did not favour an alliance with the SP and the BSP and were publicly criticising them; Rahul’s complimentary words for Akhilesh and Mayawati may now silence them, paving the way for better relations. The fact is, anti-BJP voters want the three parties to come together to defeat the BJP and this is what Rahul Gandhi seems to understand as well. Bitterness between the parties may disillusion their vote banks.
Some party leaders do not rule out a tacit understanding between the SP, the BSP and the Congress on some seats to avoid division in their votes. In his interview, Gandhi describes the situation as “fluid”. After all, their immediate urgency is to defeat the BJP as the survival of all three parties in state politics will depend on their performance in 2019. No one boards sinking ships.
Political experts also feel that national politics will revolve around the two pivots in 2019 - the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Just as the Congress will need the support of like-minded regional parties to form the government, a Third Front regime too would need the Congress support to come to power. However, much will depend on the number of seats each party wins.
The seriousness with which the party high command has taken the challenge of giving its best shot in UP is reflected in the decision to deploy Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the state.
In the final reckoning, though, the SP, BSP, and the Congress should realise that a triangular contest suits the BJP.
First Published: Feb 05, 2019 15:17 IST