There was once a time in a politically crucial land, two parties, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came together to defeat a common enemy- The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Fearing BJP’s popularity due to the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya, the two parties of SP and BSP had joined hands in 1993 to achieve their common purpose of getting a majority in the UP state assembly elections. Even after the alliance was successful, differences arose with BSP chief Mayawati walking out, leading to a fall of the Yadav government. Thereafter Mayawati was assaulted by SP workers and had casteist slurs and sexual abuses hurled at her with eventually a BJP MLA- BD Dwivedi escorting her to safety. Needless to say, the alliance ended on the worst possible note.
Fast forward to 2019, stakes are higher than ever with the same BJP riding on a popularity wave primarily due to the same Ayodhya pitch. SP-BSP performed miserably in 2014 Lok Sabha polls with SP garnering 5 seats and BSP managing none. The memory of the brutal assault long vanished; the two parties, hoping to salvage their prestige in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections once again repeated their 1993 model by joining forces.
However, their problems this time seem to have arisen even before the polls have been conducted. BSP and SP have been staunch enemies since the past 24 years, with their ideologies and vote banks differing in every sense. The traditional voter base of SP and BSP (Yadavs and Dalits, respectively) nurture a deep seating aversion to each other and many had predicted during the time the alliance was announced that although the top leaders have forgotten their past feuds, the cadre might not be able to overcome the traditional rivalry. And now it seems they skeptics have been proven right. Even though the two party leaders in their desperation have licked the old wounds, the cadre is far from satisfied and has even become rebellious as the elections draw closer.
In furtherance to the alliance, a seat-sharing system has been finalized with BSP contesting 38 seats and SP contesting 37. Due to this, the BSP officials have turned rebellious as many of their nurtured constituencies have come under SP. This has led to a number of leaders leaving the party, including, Ramesh Bind, a three-time MLA from Manjhwa after his Mirzapur Lok Sabha seat fell into SP’s share. Moreover, BSP’s Hathras unit has been substantially weakened after half a dozen senior functionaries left it, after the seat moved to the SP kitty. Manoj Soni, who was promised the BSP ticket from Hathras, has been shifted to Agra, only to create major unrest in the party’s Agra unit. The Agra unit views Soni as an outsider in light of the nomination, loyalists such as Advocate Kunwarchand Devendra Chillu and Dr. Bharatendu Arun have been expelled for anti-party activities and protests.
The ‘outside candidature’ resentment is evident after three former BSP MLAs, Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, Dharampal Singh and Surajpal Singh, joined the Congress after ‘outsider’ Rajveer Singh was given the ticket from Fatehpur Sikri. Moreover, in defiance to the party’s top leadership, a press conference had been called by local BSP leaders after Fazlur Rehman from Saharanpur and Haji Yaqub from Meerut were given tickets.
In the last 2 months, BSP desertions have been tremendous. The deserters include Thakur Jaiveer Singh, Chaudhay Mahendra Singh and Mukul Upadhyay, along with leaders from Mayawati’s own Jatav caste, former MLA from Agra South, Gutiyari Lal Dubesh, former MLA from Hathras Gendalal Chaudhary, two-time MP from Mohanlalganj Reena Chaudhary and former minister from Kanpur, Satish Pal.
Mayawati has herself fostered a culture of replacing leaders and removing them abruptly. Prime examples of this are, Satveer Nagar from Gautam Buddh Nagar and Iqbal Thekedar and Ruchi Veera from Bijnor. This has already caused wide confusion among the cadre leading to a lack in a loyalist attitude. Her leadership has been haywire and inconsistent with her removing Afzal Ansari and Chandra Bhadra Singh Sonu a few years ago for their mafia relations and pending crimes and now subsequently awarding them seats. She has also removed Devashish Jararia, BSP’s young face due to her insecurity with new Dalit faces. Mayawati’s dictatorial attitude without any regard to the party leader’s requirements have been further reinforced when all the prominent founding members of BSP — Rajbahadur, Daddu Prasad, Jugal Kishore, Babu Singh Kushwaha, RK Choudhary, Sonelal Patel and Swami Prasad Maurya were forced to leave.
With the cadre dissatisfaction widely evident due to Mayawati’s leadership techniques, the alliance with SP is the cherry on top of the mounting mess of misdirection. With the SP leaders replacing the BSP leaders and vice versa, the party cadre are definitely not going to welcome the alliance with open arms. With the cadre of both the parties are at opposite ends, harmonization which is necessary to gain the trust of the voters seems an unlikely task. The voters moreover themselves have opinions as to their choice of leaders and thus replacement of candidates from their traditional bastions will not heed to mighty results. With SP-BSP alliance already weighing under the leadership issues, the actual carry-over on the voter front will be as difficult or even more.
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