After Independence, for a long time, the Congress and BJP were in power… even in Congress-ruled states, wrongful practices came to notice… so they eventually lost voter base…”These remarks by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati, made at the first joint rally organised by her party in Deoband along with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Samajwadi Party, touch upon what can be considered the alliance’s primary concern — their voter base.When the Samajwadi Party and BSP announced their alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha election, it took many a political analyst by surprise as the popular opinion was that they would join hands with the Congress, as well, to take on the ruling BJP. The move was even more unexpected as Mayawati had lent support to the Congress — albeit begrudgingly — to help the party get the numbers to form governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.SP-BSP joined hands to fight BJP, but latest remarks by Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav indicate quiet fear of CongressFile image of Akhilesh Yadav (L) and Mayawati. ReutersWhen announcing her decision after the Assembly election results were declared in December 2018, the BSP chief had emphasised that the move was to ensure that they kept the BJP out of power, not because her party supported the Congress. In fact, in March, Mayawati ruled out the possibility of an alliance with the Congress “in any state”.After the former rivals came together in Uttar Pradesh, shunning the Congress, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said that he had “immense respect” for Congress president Rahul Gandhi, but the grand old party was kept out of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh to correct the “poll arithmetic” necessary defeat the BJP.“If you take out the number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, you will notice that the BJP government doesn’t have the majority. BJP keeps talking about social engineering. So I also decided to correct my poll arithmetic and did it through this alliance,” Akhilesh had ‘explained’.Both former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers have repeated time and again that their ultimate goal is to dethrone the BJP. Why then did they not include the Congress in the alliance to prevent a division of votes? Akhilesh’s explanation does not explain much.The SP-BSP combine lays bare the clear contradiction between the objective the entire Opposition has put forward of keeping the BJP from winning a second mandate — as well as taking the country away from the rigid direction towards which it’s headed — and the determined refusal of Mayawati and Akhilesh to include the Congress in its alliance.
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