The SP-BSP poll alliance in UP unravelled Tuesday, with BSP chief Mayawati confirming that her party would fight the Assembly bypolls this year on its own, and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav responding that his party would take the same route.
In a statement issued a day after she met party leaders in the Capital, Mayawati also blamed “internal sabotage” in the SP’s core vote base — the “Yadav samaj” — for the poll debacle and said that it “drifted away” from the alliance, even in the SP strongholds.
Mayawati, however, kept the window open for the alliance and emphasised that her latest move did not signal a “permanent break” with the SP. Also, she did not directly criticise Akhilesh and said that she received “a lot of respect” from the SP chief and his wife Dimple Yadav. She said that she can work with the SP in future if Akhilesh fulfills “his political duties”.
Reacting to Mayawati’s statement, Akhilesh told reporters in Ghazipur: “Even if our paths are different, we welcome it. If the alliance ends, we will field SP candidates on all 11 seats up for the bypolls after consulting our party leaders.”
Sources in both parties told The Indian Express that Akhilesh and Mayawati have not held any formal discussion over the results after the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections — the BSP won 10 seats and the SP five.
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Mayawati’s statement comes a day after she told BSP leaders in a closed-door meeting that the future of the alliance would be reviewed. In Tuesday’s statement, the BSP chief said that after the alliance was finalised, Akhilesh and Dimple gave her a lot of respect and she too forgot “all past differences” and “gave them respect like a family”. Mayawati said she will try to ensure that their “relationship stays intact”.
“But on the other side, political compulsions cannot be ignored completely… after seeing the results of the Lok Sabha polls in UP, it has to be said with much sadness that SP’s base vote — the Yadav samaj — could not remain with the SP in Yadav-dominated constituencies and there was internal sabotage because of some unknown displeasure, which defeated SP’s prominent candidates,” Mayawati said.
She said the defeat of Dimple in Kannauj, Akhilesh’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav in Badaun and SP leader Ramgopal Yadav’s son Akshay in Firozabad forced her to “think a lot”. “It can be analysed in this situation that when the SP’s vote base drifted away in SP’s strong seats, how could they have voted for the BSP?” she said.
Maya ploy: Blaming split in Yadav votes
With the BSP gaining more from its alliance with the SP in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections, Mayawati’s unilateral decision to call off the tie-up has shocked her alliance partner. That she chose to blame a split in the SP’s Yadav votes, and not the Muslim votebase, for the poll debacle appears to be a ploy to consolidate BSP’s gains ahead of the next state polls. The two sides had initially come together for the 2018 Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana.
Mayawati said her party’s review found that the BSP could not succeed as expected in alliance with the SP and that there is a need for improvement in the poll partner. In the statement, she said that the SP, too, “lost a good opportunity to rid the society of BJP”.
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“But now, they (SP) have to prepare a lot in the coming days. And if I feel in future that the SP chief (Akhilesh) has achieved success in fulfilling his political duties… we will certainly work together again. That means there is no break-up between us so far. And if he doesn’t succeed because of any reason, it’ll be better for us to work separately. Hence, in the current situation, we (BSP) have decided to fight the bypolls alone,” Mayawati said.
The bypolls are 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.
Speaking in Ghazipur, Akhilesh said: “If the gathbandhan has disintegrated, or whatever is being said about it, I will deliberate on it very carefully. And if there is no alliance in the bypolls, SP will make its own preparations. The SP will also contest from all the 11 seats after consulting with senior members of the party…. Even if our paths are different, it is welcome, and best wishes to everyone.”
The BJP, meanwhile, posted on its official Twitter handle a video clip from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally in Etah where he had said that SP-BSP’s “fake friendship” will break on May 23, the day of the results.
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 the Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana, the two sides decided in January to extend their tie-up to the general elections. At the time, Mayawati described the alliance, which marked the coming together of bitter rivals after nearly 25 years of hostility, as the “rajnaitik kranti (political revolution) of 2019”.