Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Tuesday made her stand clear on the party's alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP), amid speculation that she may end the tie-up in Uttar Pradesh, given their massive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
At a press conference, Mayawati asserted that the SP's failure to retain its traditional votes from the Yadav community, including in constituencies like Kannauj and Firozabad, "forced" the BSP to rethink its strategy for the Assembly bypolls due in the state.
Reiterating the "mutual respect" between the alliance partners, in particular Akhilesh and his wife Dimple, Mayawati confirmed that the BSP will contest the bypolls to 11 Assembly seats solo, not in partnership with the SP. However, she clarified that this was not a "permanent break" in their ties, and that if the SP was successful in regaining its voters, the BSP would consider allying with the party again.
"It is not a permanent break. In future, if we feel that the SP chief has succeeded in his political endeavours, we will work together again. But if he doesn't succeed, it would be better for us to work separately. So we have decided to fight the by-elections alone," Mayawati said.
Nine BJP MLAs and one each from the BSP and SP were elected to Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 polls. The bypolls will be necessitated after they resign from their respective seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Mayawati's remarks on the by-elections are surprising as the BSP does not usually contest bypolls.
Soon after her press conference, Akhilesh told reporters SP will also contest from all 11 Assembly seats solo for the bypolls. "An alliance is not the need of the hour," he said, adding that the party will decide on its candidates after due deliberation.
Lok Sabha election drubbing
The SP-BSP combine was touted to be the primary contender for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, but the alliance met with an embarrassing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. The saffron party won 62 of the 70 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, while BSP bagged only 10 and the SP, five. The Rashtriya Lok Dal, also an alliance of SP and BSP, drew a blank in the recently conducted polls. Sonia Gandhi was the only Congress leader to win in Uttar Pradesh, retaining her Rae Bareli seat, with even party chief Rahul Gandhi losing Amethi to BJP's Smriti Irani.
At a meeting of the BSP leadership on Monday, Mayawati rued the fact that the SP-BSP alliance had failed to ensure a transfer of their respective vote banks. Instead, Akhilesh's estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, who launched the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia, had managed to transfer Yadav votes to the BJP, which hurt their alliance, she said.
Reports said Mayawati had also asked party workers not to depend on an alliance to win votes but to improve the BSP's organisational structure instead.
'Ferrari vs cycle'
Hours after reports of Mayawati's "dissatisfaction" with the alliance surfaced on Monday, Akhilesh had said SP will fight for social justice together with the BSP. He made the statement at a public meeting in Azamgarh, his first visit to the constituency after the Lok Sabha election results were declared on 23 May.
Akhilesh also defended the performance of the alliance, saying that the battle this time was of a "different kind". "It was a race between a Ferrari and a cycle (SP's election symbol). Everybody knew the Ferrari will win. The Lok Sabha elections were not fought on issues; they were fought on something else," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
At the meeting on Monday, Mayawati also pointed out that Akhilesh could not ensure his Dimple's victory from traditional SP bastion Kannauj. BJP's Subrat Pathak defeated her by a margin of over 12,000 votes. The Congress had not fielded a candidate from Kannauj in her support.
Besides Dimple, Akhilesh's cousins Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav lost from Badaun and Ferozabad constituencies, respectively.
This development came after Mayawati sacked BSP election coordinators of six states and state party presidents of two states on Sunday. She removed party coordinators of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand and sacked the BSP presidents of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, where the party could not open an account.
Making the rift in the alliance even more evident, SP leader Hariom Yadav, on Monday, blamed the BSP for the "huge losses" his party suffered in the Lok Sabha elections. Criticising Mayawati, he said her party would have not won even a single seat if it had not forged an alliance with SP.
"Only Mayawati benefited from the alliance. SP faced a huge loss. If this alliance was not formed, then Mayawati would have been at zero and SP would have won 25 seats on its own," Hariom said, claiming that the Yadav community voted for BSP but "beheniji's vote share went to the BJP".
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 12:28:26 IST