Rivals put past behind, vow a ‘long-term’ alliance
Once arch political rivals, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday announced an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, saying they will contest 38 seats each in Uttar Pradesh. While the Congress has been left out of the tie-up against the ruling BJP, the alliance will not contest from Amethi and Rae Bareilly, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
They also left two seats of the 80 in the state for smaller allies, without naming them.
Addressing a joint press conference in Lucknow with SP national president Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati said the SP-BSP alliance will “give sleepless nights to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah”, whom she referred to as ‘guru chela’.
Regarding the Congress, she said in tie-ups with the Congress in the past, her party did not benefit in any way. “In the past I have seen that our votes get transferred to the Congress, but not vice-versa. We do not gain from an alliance with the Congress, whereas the vote transfer is perfect in an SP-BSP tie-up,” she said.
This is not the first time that the two parties have come together. Almost 25 years ago, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP’s architect Kanshi Ram had come together to form an alliance. Highlighting the political strength of the alliance, Mayawati said “like in 1993, we will again repeat history”, adding that this was an alliance of Ambedkar and Lohia’s followers and they will take on the ‘casteist and
Terming their alliance a ‘political revolution’, Akhilesh Yadav said the merger was necessary to bring down the soaring arrogance of the BJP.
“Our coming together is an attempt to rid the state and country of BJP’s religion and caste-based politics, which is trying to divide society through hate,” he said, adding that the BJP can go to any extent to break the alliance or create differences amongst the cadres of the two parties. “We must be united and counter any such tactic,” he said. “I want to say to the BJP·that they should know that we (SP-BSP) are in this together. I am grateful to Mayawati for giving me equal status,” he said.
For the record, after forming a government together in 1993, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP had an ugly fallout after Mayawati decided to pull out, which resulted in the coalition government crashing in 1995. The Samajwadi Party workers had then roughed up Mayawati at a guest house in Lucknow, after which the two sides became sworn enemies.
Alluding to that incident, Mayawati said on Saturday, “In the interest of the nation, we have decided to rise above the Lucknow guest house incident and come together again,” she said. This was probably also her way of replying to the barbed comment by PM Modi, who, at a recent rally in Agra, had scorned her for forgetting that episode while allying with the Samajwadi Party.
Cautioning his party workers against indulging in any such activity that would go against the BSP and its leader, Akhilesh said any insult to Mayawati would be an insult to him. “I want to tell all my workers, any insult to Mayawatiji is a personal insult to me.”
Stating that the alliance was formed not only for the Lok Sabha polls, but to also represent the interests of the common people and the Dalits, Muslims and other religious minorities, Mayawati said this was a long-term relationship. “Ye lamba chalega, even for the next Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and beyond,” she said.
Replying to a question on what he thought of Mayawati as prime ministerial candidate, Akhilesh said: “Uttar Pradesh has given the country many prime ministers in the past and we will be happy to see another prime minister from Uttar Pradesh again. You know who I will support,” he said as Mayawati smiled.