By Sunil Garodia
Is all well with the SP-BSP alliance in UP? Some reports are emerging to suggest otherwise. Huge differences are said to have come into the open over nominations and the number of disgruntled leaders in both the parties is multiplying. There are also reports of party workers refusing to work for nominees of the other party, leading people to question whether there will be a transfer and consolidation of votes at the booth level. This does not augur well for the opposition in the state that is going to decide whether the BJP comes back to power or not, especially since the Congress has been left out of the alliance and is likely to field candidates on almost all 80 seats in the state.
Some of the disgruntled SP leaders are said to be crossing over to Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, who has floated his own party, the Pragatisheel Samajvadi Party (PSP). Shivpal is in need of good candidates and he is going to use his links in the SP to foment further trouble. People in the know say that Shivpal Yadav is being bankrolled by the wily Amit Shah in order to divide the Yadav votes. The Congress, on the other hand, miffed by the repeated insults by Mayawati, is said to be thinking of allying with PSP for some seats. This is going to throw the entire SP-BSP calculation into disarray.
Even on paper, the combined votes of SP-BSP in successive elections are seen to be neck-to-neck with the BJP or lesser. For instance, in the 2014 general elections, the BJP got 42.30 percent of the popular votes while the SP got 22.20 and the BSP 19.60 percent, making a total of 41.80 percent. The wins of the SP-BSP combine in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls cannot be seen as the result of a transfer and consolidation of their votes after an alliance. There were several other factors in play like the spate of atrocities against Dalits and backward classes all over India that resulted in a swing away from the BJP.
In Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath had won the seat in 2014 with 51.30 percent votes. In the 2018 bypoll, the BJP got only 46.53 percent of the votes. Hence there was a swing of nearly 5 percent away from it. The swing was more pronounced in Phulpur. In 2014, Keshav Maurya had won the seat with 52.43 percent of the votes but in the 2018 bypolls, the BJP could get only 38.81 percent, a swing away of 13.62 percent. This shows that post-Pulwama and the surgical strikes if the BJP manages to hold on to its votes, just the consolidation of SP-BSP votes will not be enough to defeat it.
Then, there is the question of the division of backward class votes with the new entrant in the fray and the disgruntlement at the booth level that will prevent a full transfer of votes from the SP to the BSP and vice versa. Further, with Rahul Gandhi on overdrive and Priyanka entering the scene, there is also a likelihood that the Congress will improve upon its 2014 tally of just 8 percent. These votes will also be from the opposition pool. The scenario that is emerging shows that although the BJP is worried, the situation is not as bad as it was initially made out to be. With a push here and a shove there, the wily Amit Shah and the aggressive Yogi Adityanath are going to try their best to ensure that UP delivers for the party like it did in 2014.