A Congress insider and two SP leaders said that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team has communicated with Mayawati and the latter has shown inclination to join the bloc.
The Opposition bloc in Uttar Pradesh is struggling to form clarity over its seat distribution. In addition to that, the non-partner, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), has kept every one guessing on how soon will it join the Congress-led bloc if it is willing to. Should the alliance partners wait and declare seats after the BSP comes in the fold, or should they go for rearrangement of seats later when BSP chief Mayawati joins?
To begin with, the Congress is optimistic about BSP joining the grand alliance against the BJP sometime before the Lok Sabha elections, according to sources privy to the developments. A Congress insider and two SP leaders confirmed that someone from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team has communicated with Mayawati and the latter has shown inclination to join the bloc. However, there are minor whispers flowing within the Samajwadi Party (SP) ranks that Congress could eventually end up allying with BSP ditching the SP, which shows a lack of clarity and coordination between the alliance partners. A senior SP leader said, “There may be such an agenda being perpetrated by a certain inside lobby, but I don’t think Congress will leave us. It won’t send an encouraging message for the alliance. The whole alliance which everybody has worked so hard for can even break if anything like that happens. SP is a major partner of the Opposition alliance.”
SP leaders say that they are the major opposition party with widespread footprints across the state. As for the trend, SP has shown upward trajectory as a vote-catcher in the recent Assembly elections whereas other parties (Congress and BSP) have lost their voters as well as their electoral ground. There is insistence from the SP leaders that Akhilesh Yadav does not want to cede his turf just like that and share seats where the other parties would eventually end up losing constituencies. An SP leader close to Akhilesh said, “Akhilesh doesn’t want to give equal seats to BSP. He had done that last time, but it has damaged our party and propelled hers. Even if we contest alone, we are strong on 18 seats.”
Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Congress spokesperson in Uttar Pradesh, told The Sunday Guardian, “The less the Opposition votes get divided, it is good for the alliance. If in today’s time, if we see there is one BJP-led alliance and another is Congress-led umbrella, if a particular party is not in one or the other, their voice in public will become weak. They should give it a thought.”
A party insider describing the Mayawati strategy said, “She has not joined the alliance because she knows if she does she will be bound to comply by the set rules of the opposition bloc. The way we are right now gives us more leverage and negotiating power.” There is also an idea being floated by a section of leaders that each major party (SP, BSP, Congress) should get 25 seats each and the RLD should then get 5.
A party insider said, “But then Congress doesn’t have that much of electoral ground to contest on 25. They don’t have much cadre left in the state. However, there can be more adjustments and negotiations with the seat-sharing formulae.”
Aditya Rathi, political analyst based in Uttar Pradesh said, “BSP is not a good alliance partner. And it doesn’t get the votes transferred, plus she (Mayawati) has forgotten the ground politics; therefore, a lot of cadre has left her. There is less trust. She didn’t go to meet Danish Ali, the Lok Sabha MP who was insulted recently, even when Rahul Gandhi went there. Is she a bigger leader than Rahul Gandhi? It seems like she doesn’t want to do active politics now.”