Lucknow: The first political aftershock of the BJP’s landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls has been felt in Uttar Pradesh, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati signalling the end of her party’s gathbandhan with the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Mayawati told her party leaders and workers Monday that the BSP would be contesting bypolls and assembly elections in UP alone, sources told ThePrint. This comes just five months after both parties had said that their alliance was “permanent”, and would be alive for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections.
Mayawati delivered the message during a three-hour-long review meeting with newly-elected MPs, BSP office-bearers, coordinators and district presidents at the party office in Delhi, a source said. The four-time UP CM has been camping in the national capital since 25 May, two days after the Lok Sabha election results were announced.
“She has said the BSP will contest all seats in the 2022 assembly elections. All 11 seats where by-elections are supposed to take place will also be fought alone by the BSP,” said a party leader from western UP on the condition of anonymity.
Confirming this, another BSP leader said: “It is widely believed in the party that SP’s traditional votes went to Shivpal Yadav and the Congress. Due to this, these votes could not be transferred to the alliance.”
SP in the dark
The SP, though, was still waiting for an official word on the development.
“Who has said this? We have no information about this right now,” said senior SP leader Rajendra Choudhary, adding that the two parties will contest elections together. “This is just doing the rounds in the media. Where did Mayawati ji say this?”
The SP, which has sacked all its spokespersons after the election rout, has still to evolve a party line on the development.
“I have seen these source-based media reports, but we cannot comment on it,” said Aashish Yadav, media advisor to SP president Akhilesh Yadav.
In January, old rivals SP and BSP had announced a pre-poll alliance to take on the BJP in UP, deciding to contest 38 seats each out of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats. The Gandhi family’s traditional bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli were to be left for the Congress, while two seats were to be given to other local parties.
Akhilesh and Mayawati, in a joint press conference to announce their alliance, had declared that the tie-up between the rivals was to be a “permanent one”, and that it would carry on up to and beyond the 2022 state assembly elections. In the weeks that followed, Ajit Singh’s RLD entered the alliance and was given three seats, with one taken away from the SP’s quota and the two earmarked for local parties.
The gathbandhan was relying on a strategic caste arithmetic, given that UP’s population contains 40 per cent OBCs, 20 per cent Dalits and 19 per cent Muslims. It was banking on the transfer of the SP’s Yadav-Muslim vote bank to the BSP and the latter’s Dalit vote bank to the former. The addition of the RLD was expected to bring in the Jat votes, especially in western UP.
However, the allies failed to transfer their vote-banks on a number of seats, resulting in the SP winning just five seats — the same number as 2014 — while the BSP went from zero to 10. They could only bring down the BJP and its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal)’s tally to 64 from their combined 2014 mark of 73.
BJP leaders take a swipe
BJP leaders in UP took personal swipes at the leaders of the alliance, and said it was a validation of their predictions.
“This was a mahamilawat and the people of UP rejected them. Because of Modi ji’s popularity and that of the BJP, these people are now scuttling for alternatives,” UP BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said.
“Akhilesh Yadav could not even keep his family together. The BJP had been saying this from the beginning that this alliance would break on the 23rd (May, counting day). The only change in BJP’s prediction is that the date changed from 23 May to 3 June.”