The coming together of once-arch rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) illustrates the age-old maxim that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics. On Saturday, SP and BSP announced their pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the forthcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The two parties would contest 38 seats each out of 80 in the politically crucial state, leaving the two Congress bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi, and keeping two seats aside for any future allies.
While announcing the tie-up, BSP chief Mayawati said she was ready to “rise above” the 1995 infamous guest house scandal–the incident that marked one of the grimmest chapters of UP politics.
In 1993, then SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP founder Kanshi Ram had joined forces before the UP assembly elections to stave off the BJP, which was riding high on the Ram temple wave. The SP-BSP combine won a total of 176 seats and managed to form the government under Mulayam’s leadership with the Congress’ support. The BJP had 177 seats.
However, the government had collapsed after two years as Mayawati withdrew from the government and joined hands with the BJP. Irked by the withdrawal, angry SP workers attacked Mayawati when she was holding a meeting with her party workers at a Lucknow guest house on June 2, 1995. Her room was vandalised and she was allegedly abused and beaten up.
When the BSP MLAs failed to protect Mayawati, BJP MLA Brahm Dutt Dwivedi stepped into the room and escorted her to safety. Subsequently, the BSP joined hands with the BJP to form the government in the state.
Since that episode, two parties had remained bitter foes until 2018 when SP-BSP alliance trounced BJP in the parliamentary bypolls in Gorakhpur (vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath) and Phulpur (Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya).