ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY.
This is what can be stated for the famous (or rather infamous) coalition partners of the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The results of the elections came as a dampener for Congress and as a setback for the ruling Samajwadi Party. The reasons for this might seem a bit queer but should not come back as a surprise.
INC under the able leadership of forever-prince-in-waiting Mr. Rahul Gandhi has been on a election losing spree with Bihar being a solitary bright spot (though it has more to do with the wily duo of Mr. Lalu Yadav and Mr. Nitish Kumar than the charisma of Mr. Rahul Gandhi). Hence, the defeat should have come as a dampener rather than a bolt from the blue.
For Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, however, the results were indeed a nightmarish and a ghastly experience.
Having staked his reputation, belief and political acumen in forging the coalition, he even went against the dictates of his father and SP heavyweight champion, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and drove a personal wedge against his uncle, Mr. Shivpal Yadav. Hypothetically speaking, if Mr. Akhilesh Yadav were to lose the elections, he was like close to dilapidation. Lo and behold, it is just like his worst fears had come true when the results were announced. For Congress on the other hand, it was just another bad day at office since Mr. Rahul Gandhi had been deputized at the helm of affairs.
BJP captured a staggering 325 seats leaving the opposition dumbfounded and mainstream media spellbound. Post the spectacular win, when the whiff of saffron was about to grip UP in its delirious celebrations, a pall of gloom had descended the Samajwadi Party headquarters. No consolation was enough for the SP since it had won only a meager 47 seats in comparison to the behemoth tally the BJP and its allies had posted. The reasons floated were more incredible than the mammoth win the BJP had scripted. According to a SP think-tank, the majoritarian opinion was that the coalition with INC had proved to be the pallbearer of gloom for SP prospects in the state.
Mr. MSY had clearly stated multiple times that SP was good enough to win the elections on its own without any support especially from the INC, a party whose name was forever tainted with the imposition of Emergency and who had imprisoned leaders like Mr. MSY during the tenure. For the uninitiated, the SP was formed on the ideals of Mr. Ram Manohar Lohia, a staunch Socialist and a die-hard member of the anti-Congress lobby. For SP to go for a prominent handshake with the INC was like burying the very ideals on which it was founded. Moreover, SP members were of the view that SP had given INC far more seats than the loyal electorate it commands.
Post elections, the SP, which thrives on the dual combo Muslim-Yadav (sounds like a McDonald’s burger) had also floated a view that although the loyal SP Muslim votes went to Congress but the Congress votes were disseminated to other political parties in the fray barring BJP. The reasons for this hitherto unknown to SP even though it was well percolated to every other political party in the fray. The INC does not actually have a devoted caste base in a state which swears by its deeply wrinkled caste lines. For instance, Mayawati has a command of loyal Jatav votes and BJP has a loyal Brahmin electorate. The chink in the armor which was so prominently visible pre-election had already crumbled to innumerable pieces post-election.
The inevitable was quick to follow. Mr. Shivpal Yadav had already sounded the post-mortem bugle post his win from Jaswant Nagar seat. The SP offices had already pulled down posters of the coalition protagonists, namely, Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mr. Akhilesh Yadav. Instead, the old posters featuring the old warhorse, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, adorned the walls. The bits and pieces of post mortem kept trickling down the news outlets but they were all in the line of expectations of ramage.
Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, on his part, put up a brave face to counter the barbs submissively with occasional outbursts like false promises of BJP, EVM tampering etc. Mr. Akhilesh Yadav (all credits to him) possesses the knowledge to get out after being barbequed alive verbally. Right from the SP supremo and his father, Mr. MSY and his blood thirsty uncle, Mr. Shivpal Yadav, from whom he had wrested the operational control of the party to the other stalwarts who had been sidelined by him, were baying for his blood in no uncertain terms. Their blood curdling growls were even percolating down to the news outlets that were eager to catch a piece of meat.
Mr. MSY on his part finally had the good sense to rubbish aside the past actions as the ignominy of prodigal son and exhorted the party cadres to start from scratch. Meanwhile, Mr. Raj Babbar, the present Congress-in-charge of UP and erstwhile Samajwadi Party export, had fired the first salvo that the Municipal elections in UP would be fought by INC sans any partner or coalition.
The SP who did not want to be a laggard in this direction post the frontal assault by BJP in the Assembly elections also retorted in unequivocal terms that Municipal elections were to be fought alone.
Going by the indications, one can safely say that coalition with Congress is over as far as Samajwadi Party is concerned and the bromance between Mr. Akhilesh Yadav and Mr. Rahul Gandhi that gripped the headlines with epithets like “UP ke ladke” and “UP ko yeh saath pasand hai” was never in the league of Bonnie and Clyde though the ending did match (not literally though, only metaphorically).
As far as INC is concerned, crying over spilt milk is only second nature to them. Rest assured, post the spectacular debacle in the UP Assembly elections, none of the parties (except in dire straits) will bond with the INC at least in the near future. For the Samajwadi Party, it was “lesson learned the hard way”.