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Mayawati’s BSP and Akhilesh Yadav’s SP have entered into a tactical alliance for the two Lok Sabha by-poll elections in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. BSP as a policy doesn’t contest by-polls. In these elections it has called out support for SP candidate. BSP doesn’t have a single seat in Lok Sabha and only 5 members in Rajya Sabha. It could manage only 19 seats in last year assembly elections. Its a pilot for the grand alliance which mat take shape for next year central elections. The results will set the ball rolling for a mahagathbandhan in the state. BSP and SP are banking on building a social coalition of Yadavs, Dalits and Muslims accounting for 44% of population. Non Yadav OBCs (29%) and Upper Caste (19%) are largely with the BJP.
BJP still enjoys lead of 15% in Phulpur and 13% in Gorakhpur even after adding BSP+SP votes. It is hence comfortably placed. In Phulpur, both BJP & SP have fielded a Patel candidate (OBC) while Congress has fielded an Upper Caste candidate. In Gorakhpur, BJP has fielded an Upper Caste, SP an OBC and Congress a Muslim candidate. Gorakhpur is a stronghold of Yogi so this alliance has less chance here. The alliance has a good chance in Phulpur as Janata Dal / SP / BSP candidates have held these seats from 1989-2009. Only in 2014 did BJP win the seat riding on Modi wave which gripped the state.
Alliances are not only about arithmetic but also about chemistry. The bua and babua’s father share an acrimonious past. Usually, seamless transfer of votes doesn’t take place in alliances. While historically BSP is able to transfer its core votes, it doesn’t get other partner votes as visible in 1996 UP polls when it aligned with Congress. That’s why it is usually reluctant to enter into alliances. Further, Yadavs and Dalits have a history of antagonism which complicates matters.
The alliance is purely to survive BJP onslaught. UP is very important for BJP+ as it won 73 out of 80 seats in 2014. Mahagathbandhan is the best bet of SP and BSP, else BJP would romp home again. However they will need to rope in Congress as well. The results on these two seats, victory margins, will decide the future course of alliance in next year.