Shaping the 2019 battle of alliances

Harihar Swarup

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections have been shaping as the battle of alliances. The most important player in battle of alliances is BSP supremo Mayawati. Also, on these alliances depend the future of the BSP leader. Seat sharing arrangement between Mayawati and Janata Congress, Chhattisgarh, floated by the Congress rebel, Ajit Jogi, raises the possibility of a triangular contest, which may be advantageous to the BJP. Ajit Jogi’s party, even in alliance, may not make much difference; his imagine is not good, and Mayawati’s party is virtually non-existent in the state. While Jogi’s exit has brought peace in the Congress, the party is still grappling because of the absence of a leader of Raman Singh stature. The entire leadership of the Congress, which included V C Shukla, was wiped out in a Naxal attack a few years ago.
In the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, Mayawati has announced she will contest all seats state but congress president Chief Kamal Nath has reportedly said negotiations are still going on. Mayawati has no chance in the state as she has influence in certain pockets only but she has potential to damage the Congress.
The real test for Mayawai is in Uttar Pradesh. She has left terms of an alliance vague by saying she will enter into an alliance if BSP is given “a respectable” number of seats. Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, however, was quick to react; “even if I have to take two steps back in the proposed coalition, I will not let communal forces come forward”. He said being a national party, the Congress has a bigger role to play; the party leaders should talk to all non BJP parties with the idea of bringing them on one platform.
Highly placed sources say that Mayawati is under intense pressure from government not to come too close to the Congress or SP. She was threatened that many pending cases against her would be reopened. That is why perhaps, she distanced herself from the Congress in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Observers say if the BSP supremo succumbs to the pressure, it will be end of her political career.
Alliance between Mayawati and Akhilesh in Lok Sabha bye-elections in the Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kaiarana sent shock waves in BJP circles. The BJP candidates in three constituencies were routed. It is believed if Mayawati, Akhilesh and Congress enter into   an alliance in 2019, the BJP may be annihilated in the political sensitive state.
BJP had won a massive 71 out of 80 seats in UP in 2014. It was helped by a split in the Dalit and Muslim votes and a consolidation of non-Yadav OBC votes. But an SP-BSP alliance can negate this and consolidate the anti-BJP vote. However, complications remain as SP votes many not be so smoothly transferable to BSP as BSP votes to SP.
BSP drew a blank in 2014 poll and fared poorly in 2017 assembly election. Thus the next general election will be a do-or-die scenario for Mayawati. This is why she has said that she might go it alone unless she gets a respectable number of seats from her likely allies.
BJP appears to be moving fast having firmed up a tie up with Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Bihar CM’s recently announced that his JD(U) had come to a respectable seat sharing agreement with the BJP. Though Nitish did not reveal the seat sharing formula, that an understanding has been reached well in advance of the 2019 poll indicates BJP is moving with its customary alacrity in political matters. Reports from Patna say Nitish is not as popular as before because she joined hands with the BJP. Currently a strong Lalu wind or call it sympathy wave is blowing even though he is in jail. Congress- Lalu tie up is certain to do well.
Similarly, in Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashehar Rao recently decided to dissolve the state assembly to facilitate elections. And although his TRS party hasn’t announced a formal alliance, the very fact that KCR made disparaging remarks about Congress President Rahul Gandhi—calling him a buffoon—shows that he is leaning towards the BJP.
Meanwhile on the opposition front Congress, Telugu Desam Party have formed an alliance to take on KCR. With this ties up chances of similar coalition in other Telugu speaking state of Andhra Pradesh have brighten up. Those optimistic about Congress-TDP tie up say, the alliance will gain in Hyderabad-Secunderabad and Khamam. A sizeable number of Andhra Poll, including those from Chandrababu Naidu kamma caste are settled in these area which account for nearly three dozen seats in 119-member assembly.
The 2019 Lok Sabha poll is decisive which may decide future of the BJP and Narendra Modi. (IPA)

Tuesday, 9 October, 2018