Last month, the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati officially announced that she would bury the hatchet and join hands with other parties to defeat the common enemy – BJP. Once bitter rivals, the SP and BSP have joined hands to challenge the might of the BJP and also to save their existence in the state where they have enjoyed political power on various occasions and between different time periods. The SP-BSP announced it would contest on 38 seats each while leaving two for its other allies. There are speculations that Ajit Singh’s RLD will be getting those two seats as part of this grand alliance.
The SP controls the Yadav vote bank and the BSP enjoys the support of Jatav voters. The Mahagathbandhan or grand alliance is providing oxygen to the politics of Mayawati, who has suffered humiliating defeats in two elections if she loses 2019 also then the BSP is finished.
Electoral arithmetic suggests that SP-BSP combined vote share was slightly more than the BJP. Based on the performance of BSP-SP-RLD in 2014 and 2017, the grand total of their vote share becomes 42.5% and 46%, respectively. On the other hand, the vote share of the NDA in 2014 was 43.3% and in 2017- 41.4%.
If this much hyped grand-alliance like scenario would have existed in 2014 and assuming that 100% vote transfer would have taken place then the tally would have been completely different. However, 100% vote transfer is not possible by any stretch of imagination. The SP-BSP coalition may look viable at the leadership level but at the cadre level, it is a formula for disaster. They lack a Nitish Kumar like figure to ensure vote transfer like it happened in Bihar. And it’s an open secret that all is not well between Dalits and Yadavs. There exists a traditional rivalry between both the communities and hence a seamless vote transfer in 2019 is just a remote possibility and the chances of huge cross voting are very high.
After Mulayam Singh Yadav’s recent statement endorsing PM Modi for a second term as a PM, the Yadavs might still vote for the SP candidates but are unlikely to vote for the BSP candidates. Mulayam is considered as ‘Dharti-Putra’ and enjoys great followership among the older generations of Yadavs and the loyal supporters of the SP. The SP might win a few seats, given the influence of Mulayam, but the electoral arithmetic for the BSP seats will fail.
The BJP has already made a significant dent in Mayawati’s Dalit vote bank by bringing non-Jatav Dalit voters in its fold in UP in 2017 state assembly elections. It won 69 of the state’s 85 reserved seats. Rahul Pandita in his article titled ‘Which way will Behenji go?’ writes, “Mayawati lost a portion of her Dalit voters—16 per cent from her own Jatav caste and 35 per cent other Dalit voters in 2014 as compared to 2009, according to data put out by National Election Studies. “New Dalit leaders like Chandrashekhar have also emerged in the state. Recently, BSP’s vice-president and national coordinator, Jai Prakash Singh also joined the Bhim Army.
The BSP is going through a bad phase, it is facing financial issues as well, and Mulayam’s recent statement would only add insult to its injuries. He is making sure that the BSP wins nothing. It seems that this Mahagathbandhan would push BSP into political oblivion. It’s turning out to be a trap and nothing else.