Having tasted humiliation at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, former ruling parties — the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party – have effected a major political realignment in the state ahead of the bypolls scheduled in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls on March 11. These elections come exactly a year after state assembly polls. While, SP and Mayawati-led BSP are seeking a complete turnaround, the ruling party in the state will look to maintain its stronghold ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Ahead of the bypolls, SP and BSP are said to be in talks to contest the election jointly. Since BSP doesn’t filed candidates in bypolls, it is likely to support SP. The thinking behind this move is to counter the BJP’s juggernaut. However, it may well end up hurting Congress’ prospects more than that of the saffron party.
The complex arithmetic of UP shows that Congress would have looked to benefit more had the BSP maintained its stance of not fielding a candidate for bypolls. The Congress would then have hoped to stitch an alliance with the SP and eyed the voter base of Mayawati’s party. However, now that BSP is supporting SP, Mayawati-led party’s core voters is likely to vote for the SP candidate instead of Congress nominee.
In any case, the going is not going to be easy for the SP, BSP and Congress as Gorakhpur has been the bastion of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Keshav Prasad Maurya has also become deputy CM from Phulpur.
If we look into the party-wise vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, SP and BSP got 39 percent in total compared to Yogi Adityanath-led BJP’s staggering 52 percent in Gorakhpur. In Phulpur, BJP received 52 percent even as SP and BSP got 37 percent. Congress had put up a dismal performance by notching up just 4 percent and 6 percent in Gorakhpur and Phulpur respectively.
Congress had hoped of staging an upset by banking on “Dalit-Muslim” votes. However, with the backing of BSP, SP is now eyeing Dalit votes along with Muslim support in the bypolls. SP is also hoping to get support from OBC community, chiefly the Nishad community. SP has also secured backing from Ajit Singh’s led Rashtriya Lok Dal. Meanwhile, Congress president has allayed such apprehensions saying BSP-SP tie-up won’t affect Congress’chance and termed this joining of hands as mere illusion.
Notably, the bypolls were necessitated after CM Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya were elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.