Will a Bihar Style Mahagathbandhan work in UP?

Mulayam JDU Congress Uttar Pradesh
Courtesy: dnaindia.com

As the polls in Uttar Pradesh are nearing, the political maneuvering by all the players has now increased and it will see some even more active as the days pass by.

In the series of latest events, the Congress chief strategist Prashant Kishore met the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence in the presence of Amar Singh , thereby sparking the rumors about a Grand Alliance being formed on the lines of Bihar.

Though the details of the meetings were not divulged but given the circumstances, such possibilities of such an alliance cannot be ruled out. Prior to this, Shivpal Yadav had also given the invitation to K.C. Tyagi of the JDU and Ajit Singh of the RLD to the 25th anniversary celebration of the Samajwadi Party at Lucknow in the 5th November.

If the alliance were to happen, it would be a big jolt to the Congress poll strategies on the first count because that would mean that Sheila Dixit’s candidature as a CM candidate would have to be rolled back.

The distribution of the tickets was the main bone of contention between the two warring factions of the Samajwadi Party clan. Formation of a four fold alliance would be like asking the Samajwadi Party to cut down on at least 100 seats which it would have to leave for its alliance parties.

Roping in Ajit Singh who has a hold on the Jat votes in the Western UP also has repercussions as the area has a sizeable number of Muslim votes too and that makes it a SP stronghold as well. So it remains to be seen as to who bites the bullet when it comes to fielding the candidates from the region. Also in the light of the alliance what would be the compromise formula between Shivpal and Akhilesh.

Thirdly, the alliance brings too little to the table for Samajwadi Party because the positions of its alliance parties cannot be compared to the votebank commanded by either the JDU or Lalu Prasad Yadav alone in Bihar. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ajit Singh both have had been at loggerheads when it comes to appropriating the legacy of great socialist Chowdhary Charan Singh. While Ajit was his biological hei, Mulayam was more of an ideological successor and walked away with his legacy too.

This has been a thorn in the relationship between Ajit and Mulayam since the Janta Dal got split in multiple factions in the late 80s.

While Mulayam ‘s party commands a loyal vote-bank of Muslims and Yadavs across the Uttar Pradesh state, Congress, and JDU don’t have anything significant to offer in terms of a dedicated caste as a loyalist.

The anti incumbency in the state is very high. Thanks to a non performing government which is engaged in family feuds, more than 100 people have died because of dengue in the state capital itself.

Japanese Encephalitis has been a killer all over these years and the state administration has no answer.

The Allahabad High Court warned that if the state government did not do anything to check the spread of disease, it would be left with no other option but to put the state under President’s rule. Widespread corruption and moribund law and order don’t make the electoral prospects of SP very bright in the elections. Add to it the heavy infighting in between the party clan. The SP is desperate for an alliance to check the splitting of the vote bank which is being actively wooed by the BSP. The BSP election rallies are starting with the recital of Islamic versus.

Lastly, the vote dynamics of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are vastly different. Unlike Bihar, which has just one million plus city, UP has around 6-7 cities with a million plus population. UP also has a larger population of urban population which has been the traditional stronghold of the BJP. Even in the worst circumstances, BJP has managed to retain its grip on the municipal corporations in these million plus cities. All it needs is to transform these votes in the state legislature elections. The BJP also would not be wanting a too weakened SP because that means too much of Muslim votes getting diverged to BSP. So, all is not lost for BJP, even if it materialises on the ground.

Even if the alliance gets a concrete shape, it would not be good enough for the SP to take it across the majority number of 203 seats unless the BSP joins in the ranks . The BSP would not join any alliance which has SP in it because of its bitter experiences with SP in the past. The guest house episode of the 90s would be etched permanently in the memory of an iron willed lady like Mayawati. It would be a credible deterrent against a SP-BSP alliance.

The battle lines are drawn and who partners whom remains yet to be seen in days to come.