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BSP, Congress likely to tie-up for UP polls

By Rajeev Sharma
November 08, 2016 08:20 IST
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The BSP-Congress tie-up is a done deal.
Only the formalities need to be gone through and announced.
This should happen soon enough, reveals Rajeev Sharma.

Priyanka Gandhi and Mayawati

The politics of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh is set to undergo a tailspin as Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party is likely to forge a pre-poll alliance with the Congress party.

Insiders reveal that the BSP may give anywhere between 80 to 100 seats in the 403-seat UP assembly to the Congress.

Priyanka Gandhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi's daughter, has struck a direct rapport with Mayawati and assured the BSP leader that she will campaigning in the UP elections in a big way.

Priyanka, who has been in touch with Mayawati regularly, told Mayawati that she need not be disturbed by her party's outreach to the BSP by anyone else but herself and her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president.

If this indeed happens -- and it is likely to happen very soon -- then this will inevitably trigger a paradigm shift in the coming UP polls which are widely believed to be the semifinal before the final match, the 2019 general election.

This development will convey several things.

One, it will mean that both the Congress, the larger political entity with national goals, and the BSP, the main regional party which is capable of winning the UP assembly election, are not only thinking pragmatically, but acting so too.

And doing so, each of the two parties will be swallowing up their respective egos. Why? Largely to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party away from the winning post.

The two parties' rationale in forging a pre-poll alliance is to ensure a credible fight against the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, and the Samajwadi Party, the ruling party in the state.

Two, it means a thumbs down to the political balloon of a Bihar-type 'Mahagathbandhan' or grand alliance suggested by the Samajwadi Party.

The proposed grand alliance was to comprise the SP, the Congress, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal.

The BSP-Congress thinking is that a Bihar-type grand alliance won't work in UP. Moreover, the RJD is a non-entity in UP politics and the RLD is a spent force.

The BSP and the Congress, the argument goes, have concluded that an alignment with the RJD or the RLD won't change the electoral narrative and a more effective pre-poll combination is required to keep the BJP at bay which only the BSP-Congress combination can provide.

Three, the ongoing family feud within the SP has left voters in UP confused irrespective of whether this dispute within the SP's ruling dynasty is genuine or choreographed.

A BSP-Congress pre-poll alliance, as per the two parties' thinking, will provide a clear and more viable alternative to UP voters.

Four, the BSP-Congress pre-poll alliance would pop up a credible and do-able political alternative to UP voters which no other political combination can given the fact that neither the SP nor the BJP would be willing to go into the polls with other major partners.

Five and last, it conveys the Congress party's willingness to go by the ground situation rather than rhetoric to keep a surgical strikes bloated BJP at bay.

It means that the Congress party has finally realised that projecting Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate won't cut ice with the electorate.

Significantly, UP Congress MLAs met Rahul Gandhi recently and told him that the party was not yet ready to fight and win the assembly elections on its own.

The bottom line is this. Dikshit was no more than a political Trojan Horse and is expendable on the larger political altar.

The Congress party's main objective is to keep the BJP away from the winning post in UP and this political objective can be best met if the Congress were to join hands with the BSP.

As for Mayawati, the UP polls are a make-or-break kind of situation for the regional party which failed to win even a single seat in the 2014 general election.

With their common good in mind, the BSP and Congress have decided to fight the assembly polls as pre-poll alliance partners.

The BSP-Congress tie-up is a done deal. Only the formalities need to be gone through and announced. This should happen soon enough. Watch this space!

Rajeev Sharma, an independent journalist and political commentator, tweets @Kishkindha

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