The prospective anti-BJP grand alliance that was supposed to corner the BJP from all sides, prevent division of the “secular” vote and ultimately defeat the BJP in a “Modi v the rest” contest seems to be headed for a huge flop. The idea of a coalition has not only been suffering from an innate desire within the constituents of the prospective alliance to outplay each other but also by the constant weakening of the Congress and even the regional players. Insecurities among the regional players such as SP and BSP or the Congress and the regional players have been further accentuated by inner party conflicts and alienation of the cadres/ local leadership with the high command.
In yet another blow to the already bleak prospects of a grand alliance, over a two dozen Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders including members and former members of the legislative assembly as well as former Members of the Parliament have changed sides and have joined the BJP. The leaders disillusioned by the poor performance and dwindling support base of the SP and the BSP joined the BJP in the presence of the BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey. It included the sitting members of the Parliament Ashok Rawat from the BSP and Jai Prakash Rawat from the SP. They stated that they were “impressed by the politics and development-oriented policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Other leaders who shifted sides and joined the BJP echoed that they were impressed by Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and wanted to join hands with the development-oriented BJP. Several other prominent leaders belonging to the SP and the BSP joined the BJP including former MLC Heera Thakur, former MLA Prem Prakash, SP spokesman Sanjeev Mishra, former block head of Dadri Brijendra Singh and some other local leaders.
Interestingly, this development has come at a time when Uttar Pradesh is already headed into the biennial Legislative Council elections. A total of 13 seats are scheduled to go to elections and notification was also issued for the same on Monday. The BJP with its brute majority is already expected to win 11 out of the 13 seats. However, the present political atmosphere is strongly favourable for the BJP. While its own cadres and MLAs are disillusioned with the SP and the BSP, the BJP is getting support from the electorate, its cadres and surprisingly even from the disillusioned opposition leaders. In such circumstances, it is fair to expect some opposition leaders to change sides during the elections and deal a telling blow to the already dilapidated opposition. In fact, the recent past has seen cross-voting by a BSP MLA, Anil Singh during the Rajya Sabha elections.
The grand alliance is already in tatters with the CPM dumping the Congress, ironically after joining the alliance in a dinner hosted by the Congress for finalizing the details of such an alliance. This was followed by another crack in the overambitious political project even as the West Bengal Congress Chief showed anguish towards Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and virtually ruled her out from the alliance. The SP and the BSP have already indicated that they share old apprehensions and insecurities towards each other even though they had come together during the by-elections. It can, therefore, be taken as a rare instance of solidarity. However, with this massive development, it seems that the problem of not being able to keep its house in order is not only the problem of the Congress but a phenomenon common to all the grand alliance parties. It seems that the coalition partners need to prioritize and save their tribes before making further leaps and creating an alliance. The grand alliance seems to have died for all practical purposes. In fact, it could not even see the light of day and turned out to be merely a mirage.
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