Akhilesh Yadav's plan to replicate Bihar's Grand Alliance in Uttar Pradesh does not reflect ground realities
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has started talking of a Bihar-type Mahagathbandhan in the state to take on the BJP in the Assembly elections of 2017. Given the existing political equations in the state, he seems cut off from the ground reality.
By Vivek Avasthi
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has started talking of a Bihar-type Mahagathbandhan in the state to take on the BJP in the Assembly elections of 2017. His uncle and powerful minister Shivpal Yadav has started thinking aloud on similar lines. Given the existing political equations in the state, both seem cut off from the ground reality.
Akhilesh seems oblivious to the fact that it was his father and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav who had initiated the formation of the Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance in Bihar and then gone on to fight against it. Though the reason behind him leaving the alliance in Bihar is unclear – on the face of it, it was about the number of seats allotted – its astounding victory has left him with egg on his face. Any party would be wary of allying with him now.
Also, the political situations in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are different. Nitish Kumar, despite serving two terms as chief minister, was quite popular; there is strong anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh government. Nitish could bank on his reputation as a good administrator, particularly one who brought the law and order in unruly Bihar under control. The law and order situation in UP has worsened ever since the Samajwadi Party won the 2012 Assembly elections.
Coming to potential allies, the bitter relations between the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samajwadi Party is no secret. The possibility of them coming together is slim. Though more than 20 years have passed since Mayawati was attacked by Samajwadi Party workers at the VIP Guest House in Lucknow, the former does not seem to have forgotten or forgiven the latter for this.
Moreover, the BSP is also aware that the present government has too many weaknesses; allying with it could be politically suicidal. The party is also gung ho about its recent triumph in the Panchayat elections in the state. It has done particularly well in rural segments.
The Congress and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are the only other possibilities left. Though the Congress has hit rock bottom in the last few years, it is unlikely that the party would enter into any seat-sharing arrangement with any political outfit. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are representing the state's Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies in the Parliament. The party has more leaders than workers at present, but it still does not want to play second fiddle to any other outfit like it did in Bihar. It does not help that Mulayam is rumoured to have quit the Bihar alliance because Nitish and Lalu accorded greater importance to Sonia Gandhi than to him.
Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) also suffered a serious jolt in the last Lok Sabha elections, where it could not manage to open its account. But Ajit Singh is known to be a wily politician. With formidable control on the Jat votebank of Western Uttar Pradesh, he too, is waiting for the 2017 polls. He would be ready to demand his pound of flesh in power sharing if any political party falls short of the magic number to form the government in UP.
At this moment, it does not seem likely that the Samajwadi Party will get any political party of the state to enter a pre-poll arrangement with it and the formation of a Mini Gathbandhan, leave apart a Maha Gathbandhan, is a far-fetched idea.
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