Bua Bhatija Al­liance

SP, BSP get­ting to­gether could spell se­ri­ous trou­ble for BJP in UP

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | POLITICS POLICY -

In a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment for the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tions SP and BSP have con­firmed their al­liance in Ut­tar Pradesh, declar­ing they will con­test 38 seats each in the state. In­ter­est­ingly, while Con­gress isn’t part of the al­liance, the two re­gional heavy­weights have de­cided not to con­test the Ame­thi and Rae Bareli seats held by Con­gress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and So­nia Gandhi re­spec­tively.

This in­di­cates that the door might still be open for Con­gress to join up with SP and BSP in a post-poll ar­range­ment should the op­por­tu­nity or ne­ces­sity arise. Plus, it is also likely that a pre-poll tie up with Con­gress would see SP and BSP votes be­ing trans­ferred to the Grand Old Party but not the other way around. How­ever, the SP-BSP com­bine’s main tar­get is BJP. The lat­ter had won a whop­ping 71 out of 80 seats in UP in 2014, which played a crit­i­cal role in BJP re­tain­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of form­ing a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment on its own. But the SP-BSP al­liance is pro­jected to be a big chal­lenge even for the BJP jug­ger­naut. For, should BSP hold on to its Dalit vote base and SP re­tain a size­able chunk of Yadavs and OBCs, it could spell se­ri­ous trou­ble for BJP in the Hindi heart­land.

Plus, the al­liance will also en­sure that un­like 2014 Mus­lim votes won’t split to the ad­van­tage of BJP. In fact, in the 2017 UP assem­bly polls SP and BSP had both won 22% vote share. If they are able to poll sim­i­lar num­bers again, it would be a game changer. In a first-past-the-post sys­tem it could mean a big drop in seats for BJP in an elec­tion where ev­ery seat change will im­pact the com­plex­ion of the fu­ture Union gov­ern­ment.

But these are Lok Sabha polls and BJP will also be putting its best foot for­ward. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s force­ful cam­paign­ing could upset op­po­si­tion cal­cu­la­tions yet again. Be­sides, not­with­stand­ing the op­po­si­tion’s suc­cess in re­cent assem­bly polls and by­polls ear­lier, vot­ers could make a dis­tinc­tion in their state-level and na­tional-level choices. None­the­less, the SP-BSP tie up does pro­vide a solid pil­lar for the op­po­si­tion’s ma­ha­gath­band­han plans across the coun­try. And as Mayawati has sug­gested, this al­liance in the bell­wether state – build­ing on anti-in­cum­bency at both cen­tral and state lev­els – should give the Modi-Shah com­bine some sleep­less nights.

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