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Grand alliance in UP Lok Sabha by-election? SP & Cong set to support Mayawati

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 22 July 2017, 23:19 IST
(PTI photo)

A meeting of zonal coordinators of the Bahujan Samaj Party is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Sunday to decide on the future course of action to be taken by party supremo Mayawati, after her resignation from the Rajya Sabha was accepted on Tuesday.

Mayawati resigned from the House after she was “not allowed to speak on the increasing atrocities on Dalits” in the country. Her Rajya Sabha term was to end in 2018.

She has to decide whether she would take the Bihar route to the Rajya Sabha, or contest the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, which is to be vacated by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

There is also talk of her contesting from the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, which is to be vacated by UP CM Yogi Adityanath, but that seems unlikelier.

Possibility of a grand alliance?

With only 19 seats in the state Assembly elections, Mayawati's chances of getting back to the Upper House via Uttar Pradesh looked remote.

Sensing an opportunity in Mayawati's weak position, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav invited her to contest the Rajya Sabha election from Bihar.

At the same time, he also claimed that the time was right for the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Congress to forge a grand alliance for the 2019 elections.

Before the UP Assembly results, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav had hinted at a post-poll alliance with the BSP, to prevent the BJP from forming a government, if the need arose. But the BJP's overwhelming victory scuttled the alliance option between the two parties, which have been sworn enemies since there was an attempt to molest the BSP chief in the infamous State Guest House incident of 1995.

With Mayawati's political enemies Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal still sidelined from the party high command, there is still a chance that the SP, the Congress and the BSP will come together to stop the BJP juggernaut in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A Samajwadi Party spokesman said Akhilesh's views vis-à-vis the BSP were already known, and it is Mayawati who has to take a call on the alliance.

Asked if the SP would support Mayawati if she decided to contest from Phulpur, the spokesperson replied in the affirmative.

A Congress spokesman said he would not like to be quoted, as it was for the party high command to make an official announcement, but “you can expect surprises not only in Phulpur, but also in Gorakhpur”.

The Phulpur advantage

A coming together of the SP and the BSP will be a significant political development for Uttar Pradesh, where in 1995, Mulayam had thwarted BSP founder Kanshiram's attempt to make Mayawati the Chief Minister with the BJP's help.

If Mayawati does plan to return to electoral politics, Phulpur would be a safer bet for her than Gorakhpur. Phulpur, famous as the constituency of Jawaharlal Nehru and his sister Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, was an SP bastion from 1996 to 2004. In 2009 the BSP grabbed the seat, but lost to the BJP's Maurya in 2014.

If the three parties decide to experiment with a grand alliance before 2019, the Dalit-Muslim combination they would form could tilt the balance in favour of Mayawati.

Yogi govt hits problems

It would be an added advantage if Brahmins, who have been given the short shrift by Adityanath, also lend their support to the alliance.

As the situation stands today, Yogi's government appears to be floundering. While the recovery of the alleged PETN explosive at the UP Assembly caused it huge embarrassment, failures on the power and law-and-order fronts have dented the government's image.

It is learnt that a group of BJP leaders from the state recently met the Prime Minister to voice their concern at the government's functioning. They are said to have cautioned that the 2019 elections will be a big challenge if the situation was not immediately addressed.

First published: 22 July 2017, 23:19 IST