Why the SP-BSP alliance spells doom for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh

By Aas Mohammad Kaif, Twocircles.net

The announcement of an alliance between two arch rivals of UP Politics: Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party may only be a few weeks old, but it is already having the desired impact in the state. The announcement has caused great excitement among party workers, especially given that the announcement-on January 12-came just three days before BSP Supremo Mayawati’s 63rd birthday. The press conference hosted by the two parties created a buzz across the nation, not just Uttar Pradesh.

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Coincidentally on the same day, the BJP  was conducting a party meet in Agra. And even though it was very cold in Agra, Amit Shah could be seen wiping sweat off his face. Prime Minister Modi was also present at the meeting and the unease at the alliance between two rival parties could be sensed among the BJP workers. Amit Shah was quick to call it ‘thug bandhan’, an alliance of thugs, and reassure his party members. But the uneasiness of the BJP team could be sensed by the media. The recent defeats in three states–Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh–has done little to instil confidence among party workers and leaders.

But why is the BJP, the largest national party and the party that swept both the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state as well as 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, tense at the alliance of two regional parties? And that too when SP has just 6 MPs from the state and the BSP zero?

The answer, of course, lies in how the state votes and its importance in the overall Lok Sabha elections.

Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, spokesperson of SP said, “Uttar Pradesh alone has 80 Lok Sabha seats. The importance of the largest province of the nation is obvious. The orchestrated riots of 2013 in Muzaffarnagar helped the BJP win at the centre and now the very same Uttar Pradesh seems to slipping out of their hands. Due to the sectarianism of the BJP, there is now an alliance between Dalits and other marginalised communities. This has moved the ground beneath the feet of the BJP. Earlier in 1993, these two parties had defeated the BJP and now history seems to be repeating itself.

“Now, it looks like BJP may not even win 5 seats. Our President Akhilesh Yadav said in the recent Kolkata rally that we will not allow BJP to win even a single seat in UP. The BJP have been disturbing the communal harmony of the nation but now with this alliance and binding between Dalits and minorities they will be uprooted.”

While Gandhi of course speaks with a bias, let us try and understand the scenario through numbers and analyse this claim. In the 2014 elections, BJP secured 71 seats (2 seats from the BJP allies) with 42.3% votes. Samajwadi party got 22.5% votes while the BSP got 19.5% of the votes. Congress got the least with 7.5% votes. Both BSP and SP together got just a little over the BJP vote share but while BSP did not get even a single Lok Sabha seat, the SP won 5 seats.

But the BJP cannot be dismissed so easily. In the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, a lot of people were expecting Mayawati to win. The BSP had given 99 assembly seats to the Muslims. They were hoping that their candidates would surely win because a majority of the population was that of Muslims. But as per the CSDS survey 68% of the Muslims voted for the Samajwadi party due to which about 20% of the votes were diverted. As a  result, the BJP won 325 seats with 39% votes whereas the Samajwadi Party got 22.5% of votes and the Bahujan Samaj Party got 21.5% of votes. It is easy to see that SP and BSP fighting each other has helped the BJP substantially and why their alliance can spell trouble for the BP.

Then, there is the caste angle.

Some castes have traditionally fought each other, some castes have their own sub-groups and some castes identify with a certain party. For example, Dalits identify with the BSP while the SP has been known as the party of the Yadavs. The people from upper castes are known to alternate between the BJP and the Congress.

This is why while announcing their alliance, Mayawati BSP Supremo had said that this alliance is not just between two political parties but an alliance between Dalits, OBCs and minorities. The population of Dalits in UP is 20.17% while Muslims stand at 19% of the population. The Yadavs account for 8% of the population.

What will worry the BJP even more is that this alliance has already hurt their chances. In the previous 3 by-elections, the opposition parties had displayed their unity to the BJP. The alliance has proved to be a success and as a result, the BJP lost in Gorakhpur, the constituency of UP CM Adityanath, Phulpur, the constituency of the Deputy CM and Kairana, an area which has been in the news for the past few years for all the wrong reasons.

This alliance has however, left Congress supporters a little disappointed. Congress supporter Mohammed Ajmal resident of Muzaffarnagar says, “There is no doubt that the alliance of SP and BSP has made the BJP tense as they have a good vote base. But without Congress this alliance is incomplete. The grand alliance (between SP, BSP and Congress) is the need of the hour. Congress is a national party and there is a loyal voter base in every constituency. If Congress fights the election alone, there are chances of the secular votes being divided yet again and BJP may not suffer a huge defeat, although their defeat is sure.”

Both SP and BSP have announced that no candidate from their respective parties will be contesting from Amethi and Raebareli. After this announcement,  Congress Supremo Rahul Gandhi welcomed the alliance. Right now, they may fight separately but there are possibilities that in the future all these 3 parties may come together to be part of the grand alliance.

Tamanna Fareed, a Lucknow-based journalist, says, “This is nothing but a diplomatic move on the part of Congress. The truth is that they are eyeing the 13% votes of the upper-caste Hindus of the state. The Brahmins who are upset with BJP may come back to the Congress. After the victory in 3 constituencies their confidence level in Rahul Gandhi seems to have increased. The entry of Priyanka Gandhi may also be another strategy of the Congress”.

There sure is an excitement among the Brahmins of east Uttar Pradesh on the official entry of Priyanka Gandhi in the party. The youth are also happy. This part of UP has more Brahmin population. The Western part of UP has been designated to Rahul’s special aide Jyotiraditya Scindia. Voters who do not want to vote to either SP or BSP and are upset with BJP  may easily turn to Congress.

Worryingly for the BJP, their latest policies seemed to have irked their loyal base too, namely traders. Nakul Choudhry, a trader from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, says “Business persons and even farmers are all very upset due to demonetization, GST, unemployment and false statements and false promises of the BJP. It won’t take much to change the government. Every person wants this government to go.”