New Delhi: Arch rivals for over 25 years, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) on Saturday announced that they would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections together in Uttar Pradesh, sharing 38 seats each of the total 80 parliamentary constituencies in the state. The parties kept Congress out of the alliance but said they would not field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi respectively. The alliance left two more seats for smaller allies.
“The alliance will rob ‘guru-chela’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah of their sleep,” claimed BSP chief Mayawati, while making the announcement at a joint presser with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. The BSP supremo referred the alliance as a ‘new political revolution’ taken in the national interest to stop the BJP from retaining power. (Opposition Joining Hands to Form ‘Majboor’ Sarkar, Says PM Modi)
She also elaborated why the grand old party was not included in the alliance. “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 Congress, whereas vote transfer is perfect in SP-BSP tie-up,” Mayawati stated.
Referring to the BJP’s defeat in Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary bypolls, Mayawati said, “I have full confidence that just as our alliance defeated the BJP in the Lok Sabha bypolls, we will crush the saffron party in the general elections.”
The BSP chief also drew a parallel between the BJP and the Congress saying the grand old party had imposed the Emergency while the ruling party is responsible for an ‘undeclared Emergency’.
Dangerous Mistake to Ignore us, Says Congress
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the objective of all opposition parties should be to defeat the ruling BJP and eliminate “autocracy, misgovernance” at the Centre. “We may have fallen on difficult times. But I think to ignore us can prove to be a very dangerous mistake,” he told reporters when asked about the possible SP-BSP alliance. He added, “Since everybody realises that, I think we will have a happy and harmonious solution sometime in the near future.”
Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that his party will fight the elections in the state with “full capacity”. Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Gandhi said he has a “tremendous respect” to the leaders of the two parties and “they have a right to do what they want to do”.
Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Rajiv Bakshi said the party was ready to fight the coming elections alone in the state. “We alone have 45 seats in the Lok Sabha and it is any day many more than the regional players. A ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in the Lok Sabha elections needs to be built around the party having a national face,” Bakshi said.
‘Coalition of Casteist, Corrupt And Opportunistic Mindset’
Reacting over the coalition, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, “This is a coalition of casteist, corrupt and opportunistic mindset that doesn’t want development and good governance. The public knows everything. This unholy alliance will be given a perfect answer.”
Echoing similar views, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted, “The Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party alliance is for their survival. It is not in the interest of the country or Uttar Pradesh.” Prasad said that the parties know that they cannot fight Modi and so have formed the alliance.
BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed that both SP and BSP are contesting together just to save their political ground. “These parties have blamed each other of murder in the past. Anyway, it’s their choice. We are confident. Even if all parties come together, we will still win,” Trivedi stated.
BJP president Amit Shah had also mocked the ‘bua-bhatija‘ alliance of the parties. “They (Mayawati and Akhilesh) could not stand each other but have now joined hands due to the fear of the BJP,” Shah had said while speaking at party’s convention in the national capital on Friday.
Non-BJP Parties Hail ‘Gathbandhan’
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee welcomed the alliance. Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, she said, “I welcome the alliance of the SP and the BSP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.” Banerjee who has been advocating for an opposition alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had earlier suggested the alliance in the northern state.
RJD’ leader Tejashwi Yadav also hailed the alliance and said that the defeat of BJP has already started from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
‘SP-BSP Coalition a Possible Game Changer’
Notably, the coming together of the two parties, which were swept away by the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha and the subsequent Assembly polls in 2017, has been viewed by analysts as a possible game changer. In 2014, the BJP had won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh while its ally Apna Dal bagged two. The Samajwadi Party won 5 seats and the Congress two, while the BSP drew a blank.