Future of anti-BJP alliance

BSP supremo Mayawati has said there will be no poll alliance with the Congress in UP. She has already tied up with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh and announced that her party will field candidates on its own in MP and Rajasthan without getting into any formal alliance or informal understanding with the Congress. So her decision to go it alone in UP will not cause much surprise. But the long statement she issued on Wednesday is cleverly drafted. For her decision to break with the Congress she has blamed ‘some’ leaders of the Congress but specifically named only one – Digvijay Singh. In the same breath she said that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are for an alliance but it is the others who are not, who want to harm the BSP.
Now, policy decisions in the Congress party are not taken by State leaders like Digvijay Singh but by party president Rahul Gandhi. Behenji knows it well. Then why did she resort to the flimsy excuse that Rahul and Sonia are for an alliance but other leaders were not, because they are ‘casteist’? Is she keeping a door open for making future overtures to the Congress while engaging in a hard bargain with it? Quite possible. It is also possible that she is under pressure from BJP to keep the Congress out of an opposition alliance. The BJP is uneasy about a Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan of all opposition parties that includes the Congress. The BJP wants to isolate the Congress. If the BSP and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party can be weaned away from the Congress, BJP can breathe more easily.
Much, however, will depend on the outcome of the State Assembly polls in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. If the Congress, fighting alone, can defeat the BJP, the perspective for the 2019 general elections will change in favour of the Congress. The Congress will be able to assert itself and it will be difficult for other parties like the BSP to ignore the Congress in 2019. There is no doubt that Rahul Gandhi has been able to make the Congress a fighting force and the BJP considers him as its main opponent. The ‘Pappu’ of old has been replaced by a new Rahul relentlessly attacking Narendra Modi on a whole host of issues – from Rafale to IL & FS to farmers’ demands to fuel prices. What is more, he is getting greater response from the public than the BJP thought he would. The year 2019 is still a few months away and the situation is still fluid. Nothing is final yet.

Friday, 5 October, 2018