Samajwadi Patron Mulayam Singh Yadav announced his displeasure with his son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to have an alliance with the Indian National Congress and refused to campaign for the alliance. He went on to say that SP should fight polls alone as INC would do more harm than good to the SP and the wily old Mulayam couldn’t have been more right and here’s why:-
The so called “Sangam” between the SP and the Congress alliance is to avoid the splitting of Muslim votes which amount to about 20% of UP’s electorate. The hallmark of a perfect alliance is the seamless vote transfer between the parties in alliance i.e. Akhilesh loyalists voting for the Congress in the constituencies where there is a Congress candidate and vice versa. A sort of perfect alliance was visible in Bihar where seamless vote transfer took place between the RJD-JDU-Congress combine whereas the Left-Congress alliance in West Bengal was nothing short of a disaster. Now the problem with SP-Congress alliance is that Congress has lost all of its core electorate in UP and has practically no significant enough vote share to transfer to SP. The Congress which bagged a lowly 27 seats in the 2012 UP assembly elections was a testament about how the Grand Old Party has lost its vote share in UP. The party has been on a downward spiral since 2012 under the charismatic leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Hence the decision by Akhilesh Yadav to award Congress 105 seats defies logic because there is every chance that the Congress will act as a parasite party just like it did in West Bengal.
In the West Bengal elections held last year the Left and the Congress joined hands to prevent the splitting of minority vote and prevent Mamata from getting a consecutive second term as West Bengal CM. The result of the WB assembly election is as follows:-
Total seats :- 294
Mamata Banerjee led TMC won comfortably and more importantly ended up increasing its tally from the previous election. The Left which ruled the state for 34 consecutive years till 2011 ended up third and even lost the status of principal opposition. Not even in the wildest of their dreams The Left would have imagined such an outcome. The Left was successfully able to transfer its vote share to the Congress but the Congress didn’t manage to transfer it’s (lack of) vote share to the Left thus acting as a parasite party. However in Bihar, Congress wasn’t a major player in the state and practically didn’t have any vote share to transfer to.While the RJD-JDU did manage to transfer the vote share and thus leading to the victory of their alliance.
Coming back to Uttar Pradesh both the SP (which is focusing on the Yadav-Muslim votes) and the BSP(which is focusing on the Dalit-Muslim votes) are betting heavily on the minority vote. In the joint press conference held by Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi appeared to have shot in the mouth by heaping praise on Mayawati and said that he personally respects her and surprisingly didn’t congratulate Akhilesh on his “achievements” thus keeping the option open for the Congress to ally with the BSP in case of a hung assembly which doesn’t bide well for the young UP CM. The biggest problem with the alliance is that Akhilesh faced large scale protests from the Muslim community after the Muzaffarnagar riots and the Congress lacks significant presence in UP combined with the fact that Mayawati created history by giving close to 100 tickets to it’s Muslim faces. Another worry for the young SP scion is to fend off the accusations made by his father that Akhilesh Yadav doesn’t care for the Muslims and had rejected his advice to appoint a “Muslim DGP” after the Muzaffarnagar riots. This accusation by Mulayam Singh who earned the tag of Mullah Mulayam after the Babri demolition is sure to impact the alliance in it’s plans to dissuade Muslims from voting for the BSP. The BSP had close to 20% vote share in UP in the 2014 LS elections however failed to bag any seat in the state.Nation wide the party stood third with a vote share of 4.1% despite winning no seats. A worrying trend for both the SP and the BJP is that during the LS elections many of the UP electorate preferred Modi at the Centre and Mayawati at the helm of the state affairs mainly due to her iron grip on the law and order in UP which has been in free fall since SP came to power. While 2014 was long way ago and it remains to be seen whether the work of PM Modi at the Centre and the recent corruption allegations faced by Mayawati will make the potential voters for Mayawati gravitate towards the BJP. But there is hardly any chance for them to gravitate towards the SP who were miffed with the party in 2014 itself and since then Muzaffarnagar riots , party infighting and the alliance with a party which is on a downward spiral will surely make the voters sway to the BSP or the BJP.
The SP-Congress alliance has seemingly missed the trick by assuming that the minority vote will be divided only between the alliance and the BSP. The 2014 LS polls sprang a lot of surprises but the biggest surprise was that a large section of Muslims voted for the BJP. States like Assam, Maharashtra, UP and Delhi with sizeable chunk of Muslim electorate voted overwhelmingly for the BJP. The CSDS has identified 87 Lok Sabha seats having considerable Muslim population throughout the country. Out of the 87 seats the BJP triumphed in 45 seats and in Uttar Pradesh alone the party won all but one of the 27 seats with sizeable Muslim electorate. The main reason for this pattern was seen due the frustrations of the Muslim community with the Congress who had taken them for granted for the past 10 years. So the assumption by the SP that Congress would bring in minority votes falls flat. Assam which also has a sizeable Muslim electorate BJP stormed to power at the expense of Congress winning 86/126 seats and winning in 15 out of the 49 Muslim majority seats.This was attributed to the fact that the BJP was successful in consolidation of Hindu votes and the fact that Muslims don’t vote en bloc will surely have Akhilesh Yadav worried.
Perhaps Mullah Mulayam is right and Akhilesh has missed the biggest downside of allying with the Congress, the fact that Rahul Gandhi is an asset to PM Modi and BJP which has been proved right again and again.
CSDS, INDIATODAY.IN, IBTIMES.CO.IN