25 yrs on, SP-BSP tie-up could again spell success

LUCKNOW: Exactly 25 years after Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram joined hands to stop the BJP juggernaut at the height of the Ayodhya movement, the SP patriarch’s son Akhilesh and the Dalit icon’s protégé Mayawati have cemented ties to stall Moditava, which pushed Opposition to the margins in 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 assembly polls.

If the voting pattern remains the same as in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP-BSP ‘gathbandhan’ may cut BJP’s tally to half, a data-crunching of results by TOI shows.

However, had Congress been included in the alliance, the mahagatbandhan could have dominated two-third of 80 Lok Sabha seats.

In 2014, BJP swept 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal won 2, whereas SP bagged five and Congress two. BSP drew a blank. Although simple mathematics shows that BJP and Apna Dal vote-share (43.63%) in 2014 was more than the combined SP-BSP share of 42.12%, a micro-analysis of every seat reveals SP and BSP together polled more votes than BJP in 41 constituencies. If RLD, now a probable ally, is included in the alliance, it touches 42 seats.

Political pundits, however, said election results cannot be predicted on the basis of math. The outcome largely depends on issues on which people vote. In 2014, there was strong anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA government and people voted for change and a stable government under one party.

In 2019, the major issue would be Modi’s performance. The success of alliance would depend on parties hold on their caste-based vote-banks and capacity to transfer these votes to partners in constituencies. “SP thrives largely on votes of Yadavs and Muslims, while Dalits are the base of BSP. Though the alliance will become the first choice of Muslims, many Yadavs who are loyal to SP but would not like to vote for BSP may instead go for BJP,” said political observer Deepak Kabir.

Some analysts, however, pointed out that in 1993 assembly elections, when SP and BSP contested together, they could transfer votes to each other to some extent. The state then saw a four-cornered contest with the SP-BSP alliance and BJP getting almost equal number of seats. BJP won 177 seats and SP-BSP 176.

However, similar alliances like BSP-Congress and SPCongress failed to make any impact in 1996 and 2017. This could be the reason why the two regional parties are avoiding a tie-up with grand old party this time.

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