In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a Mahagathbandhan of all the anti-BJP parties was being ballyhooed as a huge political phenomenon in the Indian scenario. However, the Lok Sabha polls debacle for the opposition followed by embittered relations between the opposition parties has shattered the propaganda around such an alliance.
In a major blow to the opposition, it has been reported that the alliance between the BSP and the SP in the state of Uttar Pradesh has run into trouble. According to sources, the Mayawati led BSP will contest the by-polls on 11 assembly constituencies alone. This means that the Mahagathbandhan has fallen apart for all practical purposes. This follows the disastrous showing of the SP-BSP alliance during the Parliamentary polls. While it is clear that the alliance has fallen apart, it is important to make a detailed analysis of the reasons behind the downfall of the SP-BSP coalition.
1. Unable to take on the BJP
It seems that both the parties have understood that they cannot take on the BJP even with their combined might. The Mahagathbandhan not only failed, but it also left both the parties embarrassed. The entire left-liberal ecosystem was pinning its hopes on the SP-BSP alliance. However, despite an alliance between the two parties, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal managed to win 64 out of 80 seats in the state. Its vote share also saw a significant jump from 42.3% to 49.6%. On the other hand, the vote share of SP saw a significant decline from 22.2% to 18% and the vote share of BSP also declined from 19.6% to 19.3%. It is clear that BJP became even more popular in the state despite the formation of the coalition between the SP and BSP. The coalition partners only lost out on their vote base. As such the alliance turned out to be a futile exercise. The two parties had set aside years of hostility before coming together but it only turned out to be counter-productive.
2. Unacceptability among supporters
The leadership of the two parties had come together setting aside years of animosity because they saw an immediate political opportunity. However, the cadres and supporters of the two parties, especially the SP, do not seem to have been happy with the decision. A video of the joint rally of the two parties during the election campaign went viral. In the video, the SP workers could be seen tearing apart BSP flags. It was also being said that the workers of the two parties were involved in clashes and attacked one other with chairs. Broken chairs could also be seen in the video. This makes it clear that even though the leadership might have entered into an alliance, the workers at the ground level never really accepted it. The coalition was at best, a superficial show of strength.
3. SP: The biggest loser in Mahagathbandhan
According to sources, Mayawati has said, “The alliance is bekar (useless). Yadav votes were not transferred to us. Even (Akhilesh Yadav’s) own family didn’t win the Yadav votes.” She is also believed to have said that Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav and the Congress both cut into Yadav votes. It seems that Mayawati might be snubbing the Akhilesh Yadav led party on the pretext that the latter has lost the ability to garner and transfer Yadav votes. As such the SP has emerged as the biggest loser of the Mahagathbandhan arrangement.
In 2014, the BSP had failed to open its account and this time around it has won 10 seats. On the other hand, SP’s tally has reduced from 5 in the 2014 polls to 4 this time around. While the BSP gained from the alliance, SP turned out to be the biggest loser. It seems that having benefitted from the alliance, the BSP has grown ambitious. It wants to add up to the tally of its MLAs as well, given the Rajya Sabha elections next years. The BSP supremo seems to have understood that it is not possible to take on the BJP even with an alliance. It is now looking to make most of the current political position instead of sharing political benefits with the SP which seems set for a further dip in vote share and the number of seats.