The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, the regional parties from the state of Uttar Pradesh in 2019 general election came together to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party but parted ways a few months after they could not achieve the aim. The Mayawati led BSP tore the alliance after the party won ten seats in the 2019 general election while the Akhilesh Yadav led SP could score only five. Out of the two former chief ministers of the state who joined hands against BJP, Mayawati benefitted disproportionally, to the dismay of Akhilesh Yadav. Now, by taking a stance in favour of the nation by supporting abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the BSP has sidelined SP further.
On the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mayawati once again came out as a smarter player as she supported the move of the Modi government. On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party opposed it and said that Modi government is ‘imposing it’ on the nation. He also repeated the Congress’s rhetoric of “Now what will be the fate of Pak Occupied Kashmir?” to which Union Home Minister Amit Shah replied saying that “when I say the state of Jammu & Kashmir- PoK and Aksai Chin, the illegally occupied areas by Pakistan and China respectively are included in it. We can die for this.”
The strategy behind Samajwadi Party’s decision to oppose Modi government’s move could be about vote bank politics, keeping politics above national interests. The top leadership of SP believes that the Muslim community is opposed to the Modi government’s move and they will vote en masse for the party in upcoming assembly election. However, the major vote base of the party, the Yadav community will not be happy with the move. In 2019 general election, BJP bagged a good chunk of Yadav votes due to its nationalist policies and Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to oppose the removal of Article 370 in Kashmir may not go down well with the Yadav community.
Mayawati sensed the national sentiments much better and supported Modi government’s Kashmir move. It may also be noted that BSP highlighted in parliament that BR Ambedkar too was strongly opposed to the special provisions given to Jammu and Kashmir. Mayawati’s support mattered in Lok Sabha where the party had 10 MPs. The Jatav community is major vote bank of the BSP and it may not have gone down well with them if BSP opposed such a nationalist move. Keeping in mind the 2022 elections, it was wise for Mayawati to take such a step.
Mayawati also wants establish that her party is main opponent of BJP in upcoming assembly election. BSP bagged 19.26 percent of polled votes in 2019 general election compared to 17.96 percent of SP. The vote share of BSP fell by just 0.34 percent compared previous general election while that of SP fell by 4.24 percent. Although the story of 2017 assembly election was different when SP (In alliance with Congress) got 28.07 percent votes compared 22.23 percent of BSP, a 6 percent lead. However, Mayawati wants the 2019 general election to be reference point and she had made her intentions about going alone in upcoming assembly very clear.
At the time when she snapped alliance Mayawati had 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.” In recent by-election held in the state, Mayawati decided to go alone. BSP has always been skeptic about any prepoll alliances as it believes that its votes are transferable while the same is not true for other parties.
Therefore Mayawati first defeated SP in a political strategy in 2019 general election and the same happened in Article 370 abolition case. Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav is fast losing support among core voters, BJP and BSP has repeatedly outmaneuvered Mr Yadav in political fight. If the trend continues, the next assembly election could be a BJP and BSP show, where BSP could emerge second in the race after eating into SP’s votes.