Advantage BJP as Mayawati to go solo in UP polls

Advantage BJP as Mayawati to go solo in Uttar Pradesh polls

Congress, led by Priyanka Gandhi, wages a lonely battle

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati. Credit: PTI File Photo

Scotching speculation about any adjustment with Congress, BSP on Tuesday announced its plan to go solo in the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, making it amply clear that the crucial Hindi belt state stares at multi-cornered contests, which seems advantage BJP so far.

Samajwadi Party, which had tied up with BSP in the state in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and with Congress in 2017 Assembly polls, has already shunned both and stitched alliances with smaller parties — Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) in eastern UP, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in Western UP and uncle Shivpal Yadav's Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party.

Read | BSP leader Mayawati rules out alliance for Uttar Pradesh elections

Congress, led by Priyanka Gandhi, wages a lonely battle and while the party has, in the last few months indeed made quite a buzz — raising issues and taking to streets against the government on multiple issues including the alleged mishandling of Covid-19 — the lack of a state face and organisational weaknesses, have raised questions on it being a senior player in the state polls.

After Samajwadi Party’s categorical no to the alliance with major parties, a section in Congress was wanted to explore some electoral understanding with the BSP, which has been out of power for the last one decade. Congress was hoping to get some traction among Dalit electorates in Uttar Pradesh after anointing Charanjit Singh Channi as the Punjab chief minister from the SC community.

Mayawati, who has been attacking Congress and BJP for some time, accusing them to trying to poach on Dalit voters by misleading them, on Tuesday made a categorical announcement that the BSP won't have any electoral agreement (chunavi samjhouta) with any party.

Also Read | BJP, SP want UP polls to be 'Hindu-Muslim affair: Mayawati

"We will contest on our own. We are entering into agreement with people of all sections of society to bring them together and this alliance is permanent. We do not intend to enter into an alliance with any party," she said.

After some leaders expelled from BSP (total six MLAs) joined the Samajwadi Party and the SP leader called for unification of Lohiaites (followers of socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia) and Ambedkarites (followers of dalit icon B R Ambedkar), Mayawati had on Monday asserted inducting such party hoppers will weaken the SP instead of strengthening it. She also sought to portray SP as party that has been contemptuous (tiraskari) of Dalit icons.

With Mayawati's announcement of going solo, UP polls seem about a post-poll arrangement for the Opposition now even as SP, having stitched alliances with smaller parties influential in specific pockets, appears taking the lead from the Opposition side.

SBSP, which is now holding joint rallies with SP, had contested the 2017 assembly elections in alliance with the BJP and its leader Om Prakash Rajbhar was a Cabinet minister in the Adityanath government.

Also read | Taking BSP leaders in its party will only weaken SP, says Mayawati

In the 2017 Assembly polls,  SP, which had an alliance with the Congress, had bagged 47 out of 403 Assembly seats while Mayawati's BSP had got just 19 seats. BSP, which had not won a single Lok Sabha seat in 2014 despite getting around 20 percent votes, had won 10 Lok Sabha seats when it had allied with SP in 2019. SP had won five seats and Congress just two in 2014 and then just one in 2019.

As such a divided Opposition is not much of a challenge in UP, where BJP has won with a massive mandate in all elections since 2014.