Mayawati puts alliance with SP on ‘hold’: The biggest takeaway for the Bharatiya Janata Party from its spectacular performance in the just concluded Lok Sabha election 2019 is the manner in which it has shattered the caste calculations of regional parties, ones who looked formidable enough at one point to give the BJP a run for its money. The saffron party’s stellar performance has not only rattled its national rival Congress, but other regional parties too. The Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh has been bulldozed by an enormous saffron surge. The third party in the Grand Alliance was Ajit Singh’s Lok Dal.
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Arch rivals BSP and SP had joined hands with an aim to stop the BJP from repeating its 2014 feat of winning over 70 seats in Uttar Pradesh. However, coming together of the two arch rivals hardly had any impact on the voting behaviour as the BJP went on to win 62 seats while its ally Apna Dal bagged two. The SP-BSP combine could win just 15 seats together out of total 80 in Uttar Pradesh sending the caste arithmetic of the two big regional parties for a toss. Things were particularly bad for the Samajwadi Party as it could win just five seats. Even Akhilesh’s wife Dimple and cousins Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav failed to save their own seats.
“The Mahagathbandhan is about dynasties, not about development. The Mahagathbandhan is not about any union of minds or ideas, but about rank opportunism. The only question is whether they will break up before the election or after,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in an interview with a news agency days before Lok Sabha election dates were announced. Clearly, he could foresee the fate of the alliance.
The defeat has certainly affected Akhilesh more than Mayawati, who has cleverly shifted the blame of the loss on to the shoulders of the Samajwadi Party. Mayawati has announced that BSP will contest the upcoming by-polls alone underlining that Akhilesh failed to secure support of its trusted Yadav votebank.
This is not for the first time that Akhilesh has miscalculated a major political move. He was warned against the alliance with BSP by father Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, the veteran leader’s advice was ignored.
Akhilesh chose not to listen to Mulayam’s warning in 2017 too when the Samajwadi Party’s founding leader had advised him not to go ahead with the alliance with the Congress for Assembly polls. The SP-Congress alliance failed miserably resulting in firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath replacing Akhilesh Yadav as Uttar Pradesh CM.
In 2017, Akhilesh Yadav harped upon development during his stint to attract voters. His ‘kaam bolta hai’ campaign failed to resonate among UP voters. In 2019, he decided to go back to the tried and tested caste-based calculations to win seats. The idea failed again.
Having suffered back-to-back electoral humiliations, Akhilesh Yadav now faces a daunting task of not only resurrecting the people’s confidence in Samajwadi Party but also assuring them of its own identity in state and national politics.