Cong can see sil­ver lin­ing in SP-BSP tieup

The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE - RATAN MANI LAL

Clearly de­ter­mined to con­test the elec­tion in Ut­tar Pradesh on its own terms, the Congress party on Sun­day said it will con­test all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Party Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Ghu­lam Nabi Azad went to the ex­tent of say­ing that it was a bless­ing in dis­guise that the Congress was not a part of the SP-BSP al­liance, as it can now con­test all the seats in the State.

"Our party is rather happy... Had there been an al­liance we would have to be con­tent with 25-30 seats. But now we will be con­test­ing all the seats," Azad told the me­dia.

But its doors were ajar for like-minded par­ties in­clined to be part of a broader an­tiBJP for­mu­la­tion. In other words, the Congress is ready to join hands with oth­ers but

it will be the ful­crum of any ‘gath­band­han’ and will not play the sec­ond fid­dle. Also, does not want to fore­close its op­tion of a post­elec­tion coali­tion.

Mean­while, the SP-BSP al­liance in UP looks promis­ing, only on the face of it. For Akhilesh Ya­dav, this is his sec­ond foray in al­liance pol­i­tics, the first be­ing with the Congress prior to the 2017 As­sem­bly elec­tion. The re­sult was dis­as­trous then. It would ap­pear that he is not too con­fi­dent of his party's solo per­for­mance any more, partly be­cause Mu­layam is not po­lit­i­cally ac­tive, and partly be­cause un­cle Shiv­pal Ya­dav is not with him any­more.

Rather, the al­liance, de­spite be­ing nu­mer­i­cally-equal, ap­pears a win­win sit­u­a­tion for Mayawati since her party has no seat in Lok Sabha, at present. Start­ing at the scratch, any­thing the party wins on its own or be­cause of the al­liance, will be a gain.

By keep­ing Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal out of the pic­ture, the SP and BSP have made it clear that they want to dom­i­nate the pro­ceed­ings be­tween the two of them.

If one goes by math alone, the vote share of the two par­ties is a lit­tle more than that of the BJP, and this is the strong­est ar­gu­ment in favour of the al­liance. Oth­er­wise, the work­ers of the two par­ties have lit­tle in com­mon, and in most dis­tricts the two par­ties have thrived by op­pos­ing each other rather than op­pos­ing the BJP or the Congress.

But since the 2014 and 2017 re­sults have showed the two par­ties their lim­i­ta­tions, the need for an al­liance was felt strongly.

The two par­ties worked on it and did not put up sep­a­rate can­di­dates in the by-elec­tions for Go­rakh­pur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats last year. The BJP was de­feated in both places.

Now, the 2019 elec­tion re­mains one big chance for Akhilesh to prove his po­lit­i­cal met­tle to his sup­port­ers and his fa­ther that he has the ca­pac­ity to rejuvenate his party.

A com­par­i­son with the ear­lier al­liance an­nounce­ments mer­its men­tion here. On Jan­uary 29, 2017, Akhilesh had ap­peared amid un­usual bon­homie at a press meet ad­dressed jointly by him and Rahul Gandhi at the same venue. They had them­selves called it a com­ing-to­gether of yuva shakti (youth power), as an elec­toral al­liance ce­mented on the mu­tu­ally-shared in­ten­tion of keep­ing the BJP out of power. They had de­scribed the al­liance as be­ing “two wheels of the ve­hi­cle of progress” for Ut­tar Pradesh, and promised that it will con­tinue for the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tion.

At that time Rahul had of­fered to an­swer most of the ques­tions with Akhilesh in­ter­ven­ing only to high­light the work done by his Gov­ern­ment in the state. When it came to Mayawati, Rahul had said he had great re­spect for her, but asked whether the BSP too could have be­come a part of the al­liance, Akhilesh had said there was no place for such a “big per­son” as Mayawati and the ''ele­phant'' (BSP''s elec­tion sym­bol) in the al­liance. Also, the scenes of jubilation out­side the venue and else­where in Lucknow were as fes­tive then as they were now.

The slo­gan that had emerged from the short-lived al­liance was UP ko ye saath pasand hai (UP likes this al­liance). It re­mains to be seen how the peo­ple re­spond to the al­liance with BSP, now.

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