With the entire Opposition in the state restricted to just 78 MLAs in an Assembly of 403 members, several Muslim leaders from the Samajwadi Party, Congress and BSP are expressing support for a Bihar-like grand alliance to counter BJP, which has over 80 per cent of the Assembly seats under its control.
Haji Iqram Qureshi, SP MLA from Moradabad Rural, said, “How the politics would be in 2019 depends on the new chief minister and his government. There would certainly be a different atmosphere if the grand alliance is formed. It would help in changing the current atmosphere where BJP is only seen as strong.”
SP’s Thakurdawara MLA Navab Jan said the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister is a clear signal that BJP’s agenda for 2019 is Hindutva. “There is a need for unity in Opposition like in Bihar. A grand alliance would be the best way forward. If the SP and BSP come together, this would create an atmosphere where the Opposition would be seen as a strong alternative,” he said.
Sambhal MLA and senior SP leader Iqbal Mehmood said the Opposition would “unite without any effort” if the BJP acted in the same manner as it did during the campaign. “Time would itself unite the Opposition if BJP does not change its policies on several issues, like the minorities. Though the new government has just been formed, I am hopeful that the new CM will act as his chair demands. He should be taking everyone along now,” he said.
Congress MLA from Saharanpur, Masood Akhtar, said that a united Opposition is a need of the hour not just in Assembly, but also for future elections. “If the Congress with seven MLAs says something and the BSP with 19 members say something else, it would only diminish the impact of the Opposition’s voice. All these parties should also come together for the coming elections to counter BJP,” he said.
Former BSP MLA Sultan Beig, who lost to BJP after winning three elections, said the “secular votes are getting divided and that should be a real cause of concern in these times”. “The opposition parties have still got about 59 per cent votes. They should come together and if they don’t do so, all of them will lose ground. The decision is up to the top leaders,” he said.
Maulana Salman Nadvi, a teacher at Lucknow-based Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama who had propagated the idea of a grand alliance between BSP and SP before this year’s Assembly elections but later gave his support to BSP after the alliance did not materialise, said the Opposition appears weak and unlikely to unite as of now. “The next elections are still very far off, but the grand alliance doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon. The differences among Mayawati, Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav are deep and seem unlikely to disappear,” he told The Indian Express.