Excluding the Congress from the Samajwadi PartyBahujan Samaj Party combine’s alliance in Uttar Pradesh has been the subject of lively media debate soon after the announcement by the respective party leaders, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. The consensus in these debates has revolved around a landslide win awaiting the SP-BSP alliance. Media discourse, however, seems to have overlooked one important determinant of the poll outcome, namely, the Congress’s role as a vote divider. Although the Congress hardly created a ripple in the State in the 2014 Lok Sabha as well the 2017 Assembly elections, 2019 is unlikely to turn out to be another dismal event for the party. Elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh seem to have heralded the resurgence of the national party. The formation of an alliance-led government in Karnataka has boosted the morale of its cadres. Party president Rahul Gandhi has also been on a propaganda juggernaut. In U.P., the party is sure to have a respectable share of votes in most constituencies particularly those with pockets of minorities. The division of votes will definitely hurt the gathbandhan to the advantage of the BJP.
The Prime Minister’s line at the BJP’s national council meet criticising the alliance politics of the Opposition says much about the political realities. The newfound friendship between arch