Rajat Sharma

Byelection results in UP, Bihar can act as magnet for opposition unity

rajatsharma_frame_36961Why did BJP lose in its two bastions in UP – Gorakhpur and Phoolpur? Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, it could be because of overconfidence, while Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said, it was because of social engineering and the support extended by BSP supremo Mayawati. During the last Lok Sabha and assembly polls, the BJP had worked out a complex caste equation in UP which yielded rich dividends. This time, Akhilesh Yadav applied the same caste formula to give BJP a drubbing in the bypolls. During the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in UP, BJP had accomodated a large number of dissident SP, BSP leaders belonging to different castes, but this time, Akhilesh tied up with Nishad Party, Peace Party, and after the nomination filing process was over, Mayawati announced that her party would support the strongest candidate who can defeat the BJP. The ruling party was then left with no other option but face the battle. That is why, after the byelection results were announced on Wednesday, Akhilesh Yadav in his 15-minute long press conference profusely thanked his political rival-turned-ally Mayawati several times. He then spoke to Mayawati over phone seeking a meeting, and the BSP supremo sent a black Mercedes car to bring Akhilesh to her residence.

Speculations are rife whether the SP and BSP will forge an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in UP to defeat BJP. On the other hand, whatever BJP leaders may say in public, the byelection drubbings in UP and Bihar do not bode well for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Leaders of opposition parties are already trying to forge a joint platform since the last few days. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and National Conference chief Omar Abdullah were the first to welcome the byelection results, which can act as a magnet to bring disparate opposition parties on a single platform.

The biggest challenge will have to be faced by Congress. Its candidate stood fourth in Gorakhpur and lost her deposit. The party is gradually losing its bargaining power in the process, and Akhilesh Yadav may not give much importance to the party now. This was made clear by his associate Ramgopal Yadav on Wednesday in an interview to India TV, when he pointed out that the Congress had fielded its own candidate, and the state Congress chief had hurled abuses at Akhilesh while addressing election meetings. He himself questioned the scope for alignment with Congress. If ever an all India anti-BJP front emerges, there remains ambiguity about the role of the Congress. Even the Congress leaders themselves do not know what role the party will play in opposition unity.

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