There is a euphoria within the cadres of the two parties along with the secular circles claiming that the coming together of the two parties will decimate the saffronites within the most populated state of the country, with 80 Lok Sabha seats on offer. The BJP stumped almost everyone, including its own leaders when it won more than seventy seats in the state on its own in 2014. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, a major political power in the state drew a blank, while Samajwadi party could win only five seats. The Congress party that had won as many as twenty seats in the state was completely decimated with only two Congress leaders, namely, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, winning their family borough of Rae Bareilly and Amethi respectively.
Mayawati and Akhilesh, who heads a truncated Samajwadi Party, with the parting of ways of his estranged uncle, Shivpal Yadav, have expressed hope that the two will stop the saffron juggernaut in the state and will comprehensively beat the BJP. The two talked warmly about the past alliance of the two parties and how it had impact the politics in the state. Nonetheless, much water has flown down Yamuna and Ganges that it is difficult to visualise that the two will be able to impact the politics of the state the way the two parties did more than two and half decades ago.
Congress absence from alliance
The first and the foremost factor impacting the prospects of the two parties will be the fact that the alliance has decided to keep out the Congress party. There is no denying, and even their most ardent opponents believe, that the Grand Old Party, after being repeatedly humiliated in the last four years is in a resurgent mood. The party that stopped the BJP from coming to power in Karnataka, by managing a completely unthinkable alliance with the Deve Gowda’s Janta Dal (Secular) and presenting the chief minister’s chair to the small regional party on a platter, has done exceedingly well more recently. The way it decimated the BJP in Chattisgarh, where the psephologists were claiming the party to do badly, besides winning elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, has shocked almost everyone.
There is no denying that the Congress party is going to do much better in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the Hindi heartland than it did in the past. Uttar Pradesh being the part of the heartland’s landscape, is expected to be impacted by the resurgent Congress. The Congress has already said that it will fight elections in full strength across the eighty Lok Sabha seats in the state. If this happens, it is going to be a huge advantage for the BJP. The division of secular votes in the state between the Congress party and the BSP-SP alliance is a recipe of disaster for both the sides. There is no denying that both the Congress and the alliance will be vying for the same votes with the exception of some upper caste votes that the Congress is expecting to garner.
Division of Muslim votes
The most important outcome of the Congress party and the BSP-SP alliance fighting elections separately will be the division of the Muslim votes. There is no denying that the alliance will be banking on the twenty percent Muslim votes to defeat the BJP in the state. Nonetheless, there are tell-tale signs that the Muslim votes will get divided between the BSP-SP alliance and the Congress party. With the Congress resurgence apparent, the Muslims are seeing the party as the sole political power, capable to defeat the BJP. While in case of the assembly elections in the state, Muslims would have extended support to the alliance. Nonetheless, in the Lok Sabha elections this is unlikely to happen. With Muslim votes getting divided between the two secular camps, the BJP shouldn’t have been happier.
While many people believe that the Muslims votes are cast en-block for one political party or the other, but this is not really the case. Muslims are not homogenous community neither across India nor within UP, the most populous state in the country. Different castes tend to vote differently in different regions and there are historic precedence suggesting that Barelwi, Deobandi and Shia Muslims vote very differently in different parts of the state. BJP has tried to influence both the Shia and Barelwi sects, but it has lost the credibility among these sections given the politics of communalisation that it has done in the last couple of years. So there are not much chance that the Muslims will vote for the BJP, except in some areas where they may vote for it due to good local leadership, but the division of Muslim votes will certainly keep the saffron party in good humour.
Upper caste voters
With Congress in the resurgent mood, a section of the upper castes is going to be attracted towards the Congress party. Had the alliance partnered with the Congress party, it would have certainly got a good chunk of upper caste votes that doesn’t seem very happy with the BJP due to multiple reasons. The lack of alliance will definitely force these voters to think twice before jumping the ship and voting for the Congress party.
Yadav votes is not transferable
The alliance is going to be a huge advantage for Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. The alliance with Mayawati is certainly going to transfer Dalit votes to Akhilesh’s candidates enmasse. But this is not going to happen in the case of Mayawati’s candidates. It has been seen that while Dalits follow the diktats of Behenji, the same is not true about Yadav votes. Yadav voters tend to vote for their own candidates wherever they are, but vote for the BJP in places where they don’t see their own candidates contesting elections. While Mayawati told the press conference that the Congress votes were not transferable, she forgot to see the SP track record in this regard.
So it is advantage BJP
There is no denying that the absence of the Congress party is going to be advantage BJP at least in Uttar Pradesh. If the BJP repeats its performance or even wins more than fifty seats from the state and holds its own in Bihar, there are chances that it will be able to reach very close to the majority mark along with its alliance partners.
More columns by Syed Ubaidur Rahman:
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Hashimpura massacre by police– Finally, a semblance of justice
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Modi with Syedna: PM's Muslim outreach is a lost cause now
Mob lynching in India - The menace is growing