Uttar Pradesh is witnessing major political rumbling as parties clamour to create a strong footing ahead of the Assembly elections due early next year. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Bharatiya Janata Party sit in strong positions and are most likely to go alone in the elections. The Congress party and the weakening Samajwadi Party find themselves in rough waters and they seem to be in need of supporting hands to steady their ships.
The previously two-way fight in the state between the SP and BSP has split into a four-party battle with the BJP and Congress playing major roles. All of the parties can play spoilsport for the other in their own capacity. Samajwadi Party’s UP president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav has travelled to the national capital in order to search prospective partners for an alliance going into the next election.
After engaging in a slugfest with Akhilesh, Shivpal has been charged with strategising for the polls and weaving together a strong front against the BSP and the BJP. SP are not strong enough to come back to power at the moment with a huge anti-incumbency sentiment. The infighting in the party has been the last straw for voters who are straying away to the BSP and the BJP. Mulayam Singh has managed to broker peace between Akhilesh and Shivpal and the longevity of the truce will also impact any alliance prospects for the SP as no party will be comfortable with allying with a party that’s unable to keep its house in order.
Speculations are rife that it is considering an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress. However, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s criticism of Akhilesh Yadav’s abilities to run a government show that the party is still hanging back. Mayawati’s stinging criticism of Rahul Gandhi during her rallies have all but ended any scope of a Congress-BSP tie-up.
The Congress party is suffering due to a weak position and after failing repeatedly to woo Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party for an alliance, the Grand Old Party may end up joining a ‘grand alliance’ of sorts, akin to the one formed in Bihar. Although the party hasn’t made it clear that which party will be their likely partner in the elections, it hasn’t ruled out forming an alliance as well.
Off late, the buzz created by party vice president Rahul Gandhi has subsided and the MLAs in the state have met Rahul Gandhi urging him to forge an alliance with a anti-communal forces and a strong partner to cement their position in the poll fray. Priyanka Vadra has also joined the proceedings indirectly. She is also understood to be attending strategy meetings for the state elections.
Congress has spared Mulayam Singh of sharp criticism and knowing that any alliance depends on Mulayam Singh’s nod, the Congress is seemingly indicating their leaning towards the SP but not Akhilesh per se. The chances of another fallout between Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal will be significant in defining the future course for the party. In such a scenario, the party would want to join hands with whoever comes out in a stronger position. This could be a reason the Congress is keeping its cards close to its chest and waiting to see how things pan out before committing to any alliance.