In the first indication that the SP-BSP alliance may not hold, BSP chief Mayawati Monday highlighted the SP’s poor performance while analysing its Lok Sabha poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh, and did not mention the poll partner while saying that her party would contest bypolls to the Assembly this year.
BSP sources told The Indian Express that Mayawati, while addressing her party’s MPs and office-bearers in a closed-door meeting in the Capital, also said that the future of the alliance would be reviewed.
When contacted, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said his party will “decide its stand” Tuesday after its chief Akhilesh Yadav returns to Lucknow from Azamgarh.
The SP and BSP had first tied up before the Lok Sabha bypolls in the state in early 2018. After that alliance defeated the BJP in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana, the two sides decided to extend their tie-up to the general elections last month. However, the “gathbandhan” could manage just 15 seats in UP, with BSP winning 10 and the SP just five — the third partner, RLD, could not win a single seat.
Referring to the election results in the Monday meeting, a senior BSP leader said Mayawati spoke about the defeat of the SP in its strongholds of Kannauj, Badaun and Firozabad, where Akhilesh’s family members had contested.
Quoting Mayawati, the leader said: “The SP had won these seats when there was no alliance but lost after tying up with the BSP. That means the SP got the BSP votes. But SP’s own Yadav voters were divided. There was also no unity in the SP family… rebel leader Shivpal Yadav caused damage to the alliance.”
Remarks point to trust deficit
Mayawati’s remarks suggest a trust deficit with the SP’s support base after the poor poll show. The BSP chief hasn’t formally called off the alliance but her views can deepen fears of a split within both parties. If the divide isn’t bridged, it will be advantage BJP for the assembly bypolls this year.
Another BSP leader, who was present in the meeting, said: “The party president said the BSP will contest the Assembly bypolls. But she did not clarify whether the BSP will contest in alliance with the SP or separately. She has asked us to strengthen the organisation. Some changes at the lower level have been suggested.” Mayawati also said that “there was lack of hard work to some extent from both sides” in the Lok Sabha polls, he said.
A third BSP leader, however, claimed that it was clear from Mayawati’s speech that the party would contest the bypolls on its own.
Monday’s meeting was called to discuss the Lok Sabha results and “future strategy” for the bypolls to be held in 11 Assembly seats after eight MLAs of the BJP and one each of Apna Dal (S), SP and BSP were elected to the Lok Sabha.
For the Lok Sabha elections, BSP contested from 38 seats, SP from 37 and the RLD from three. The alliance left two seats — Amethi and Rae Bareli — for the Congress.
The SP and the BSP had formally announced their Lok Sabha poll alliance on January 12, with Mayawati calling it the “rajnaitik kranti (political revolution) of 2019”. The tie-up marked the coming together of bitter rivals after nearly 25 years of hostility.
During the elections, Mayawati addressed election rallies with Akhilesh and even shared the stage with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri.
Asked about the BSP chief’s remarks, a newly elected BSP MP said: “Mayawatiji is testing Akhilesh… how he handles the affairs of his party. This is too early to reach any conclusion.”
SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, “No official statement has come from the BSP yet. SP president Akhilesh Yadav is in Azamgarh today. We will talk about this when he returns on Tuesday. Only then will the party decide its stand.”
Meanwhile, NDA partner, LJP chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, tweeted that he had predicted the break-up of the SP-BSP alliance after the Lok Sabha polls. “Today I repeat that the SP-BSP alliance will break in the UP assembly polls,” he posted on Twitter.