SP-BSP alliance can spell doom for winning prospects of BJP

SP-BSP alliance can spell doom for winning prospects of BJP

UP is voting in all the seven phases of the parliamentary elections that started on April 11.



By Sohail Ashraf

Published: Mon 29 Apr 2019, 2:09 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Apr 2019, 4:12 PM

Uttar Pradesh is the biggest of all states in terms of the number of constituencies. The state has a whopping 80 seats that could make or unmake the political destiny of any party in Lok Sabha.
UP is voting in all the seven phases of the parliamentary elections that started on April 11.
UP is particularly significant for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as religious places such as Varanasi and Ayodhya are part of the state. Varanasi is the home constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ayodhya is the epicentre of Ramjanmabhoomi and Babri Masjid controversy that contributed to the meteoric rise of the BJP in the Indian electoral politics.
Normally these areas come under the Purvanchal region, which has 29 Lok Sabha seats. Out of the 29 constituencies, the BJP holds 27 while Azamgarh is held by Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amethi is represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Though the elections in the state are multi-cornered, with the Congress going on its own after being left out of the grand BSP-SP-RLD alliance, the fight could largely be between the BJP and the grand alliance.
However, with the entry of Priyanka Gandhi as the general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is trying to revive its long-lost glory in the state. There is no doubt that her presence has generated positive response among the party workers and general public at large. But to say that she could turn around the fortunes of her party is a bit of an exaggeration, even though she may influence outcomes in a few segments of the state. Priyanka's sober acceptance that her involvement in UP is mainly for the 2022 assembly elections indicates her marginal role in this elections.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 71 of the 80 seats while its coalition partner Apna Dal bagged two seats. But can it recreate the magic of last elections in 2019? Gorakhpur, Noorpur, Phulpur and Kairana by-elections where the saffron party lost three Lok Sabha seats and one assembly seat last year are the pointers to the waning influence of the BJP.
The SP and the BSP is a formidable alliance and the combination of two party vote banks could have a very devastating effect on the winning prospects of the BJP.
While the BJP relies heavily on the Modi factor, its sitting MPs face a strong anti-incumbency factor. The party has failed to make any efforts to build its image in the state.
In the third phase that took place on April 23, the SP contested on 10 crucial seats - Badaun, Sambhal, Mainpuri, Ferozabad, and Rampur, Aonla, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Etah and Moradabad.
The third phase sealed the fate of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who contested from one of the safest constituencies - Mainpuri. With the BSP-SP-RLD alliance, it won't be a cakewalk for the BJP in some of these places.
The Congress has fielded only 64 candidates, especially in view of the strong position of the grand alliance. Apparently, the grand old party is indirectly offering its tactical support to the BSP-SP-RLD grand alliance in some constituencies. Going by the demographic details of some of the constituencies, one can find that the Congress has fielded those candidates who could split the traditional vote of the BJP. That in turn could help the grand alliance candidate. For instance, in Jaunpur, Mathura and Salempur, the party has fielded candidates belonging to the upper caste, who may not win the elections, but can divide the vote of the BJP candidates, who hail from the Brahmin caste that traditionally votes for the BJP, thereby giving an edge to the grand alliance candidates. Likewise, at other places the Congress has fielded backward caste candidates who could get a vote share of the same community candidates fielded by the BJP.
Apart from the Congress, Ajit Singh's RLD also hopes to revive its lost position through the Jat vote bank and the partnership with the BSP and the SP. Singh who is contesting against BJP's Sanjiv Baliyan, also a Jat leader, may sail through the polls in Muzaffarnagar with the backing of the grand alliance.
One of the politically volatile constituencies is Amethi from where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is contesting. Though Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani lost the 2014 elections against Gandhi, this time around, she is hoping to sail through. The constituency has considerable population of Thakurs and Brahmins, who constitute 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the population respectively. They are traditionally the vote banks of the BJP. However, given the fact that the grand alliance has left the seat for Gandhi, it may not be that easier for Smriti. 
There is no doubt that the Dalit-Yadav-Muslim vote could help the grand alliance considerably, while the Congress may get to increase its vote share in the state following Priyanka's serious efforts.
sohail@khaleejtimes.com


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