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Mahagathbandhan a Possibility in UP, Lok Sabha Bypolls May be The Starting Point

The possibility of grand alliance got a major boost on Thursday, with Samajwadi party president Akhilesh Yadav declaring that he will attend the anti-BJP rally in Patna on 27th August. Though BSP has not officially declared its stand, sources say, Mayawati too will attend the Patna rally.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:August 10, 2017, 5:53 PM IST
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Mahagathbandhan a Possibility in UP, Lok Sabha Bypolls May be The Starting Point
A file image of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and BSP Supremo Maywati
Lucknow: BJP might have orchestrated a coup in Bihar luring away Nitish Kumar back to the NDA fold, but now a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance against it in Uttar Pradesh can be a reality. The state has 80 seats in Lok Sabha.

The possibility of grand alliance got a major boost on Thursday, with Samajwadi party president Akhilesh Yadav declaring that he will attend the anti-BJP rally in Patna on 27th August. Though BSP has not officially declared its stand, sources say, Mayawati too will attend the Patna rally.

‎But will attending the rally also mean that BSP and SP can come together before the crucial 2019 General election? It's interesting to note that Yadav in his press conference in Lucknow on Thursday didn't deny this possibility despite repeated questions.

When asked if SP will consider supporting a joint candidate against BJP in the upcoming Lok sabha bypolls and will Mayawati be the joint candidate of opposition from Phoolpur seat, Akhilesh said, "All such strategies have not yet been decided. But it's a fact that BJP is now running away from direct contest."

He, however, not once rejected the possibility of a joint opposition candidate.

Politically, it's a significant shift from the past. SP and BSP have been at loggerheads for long. Barring a brief period in mid 90s, SP and BSP have never got into an alliance. But a humiliating defeat from BJP, first in 2014 general elections, and then in 2017‎ Assembly polls has set in a process of revisiting the political strategy.

While the Gorakhpur seat is represented in Lok Sabha by UP CM Adityanath Yogi, Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya is a member of parliament from Phoolpur. Though neither has yet resigned from Lok Sabha, the law says they need to become the Member of either House in the state that is Legislative Assembly or the Council within six months of assuming the constitutional office.‎ With vacancies being created in Legislative Council following resignations by five SP and one BSP Member, it's almost certain that both Yogi Adityanath and Maurya will now go to the Upper House.

With BJP National President Amit Shah making it clear that aurya will continue to be in UP, it's almost certain that both these leaders will soon resign from Lok Sabha and the two constituencies will then go for the bypoll.

A senior leader in SP close to Akhilesh Yadav, on condition of annonymity, said, “The present political scenario requires SP-BSP and Congress to come together. The alliance can prove to be a catalyst for consolidating the strong Dalit, backward and minority vote share in UP."

He, however, added that leaders across opposition, in principle, agree to this, but how this will be worked out is still a challenge.

BSP too at this stage is non-committal about grand alliance. However, the manner in which Mayawati resigned from Rajya Sabha and her subsequent effort to strengthen the party has triggered in a lot of speculation, including possibility of her contesting the Phoolpur by-election.

When contacted, BSP spokesperson MH Khan refused to comment. He said,: “Political strategies are forumlated and will be decided only by Behenji.”

Sources, however, said that in series of meetings Mayawati recently held with her leaders, including the one held in Lucknow, leaders have voiced support for larger opposition unity. A willingness to unite Dalits and Muslims can get an electoral formation only when BSP, SP and Congress come together.

However, the BJP is unfazed by the possibilities of grand alliance. Reacting to Akhilesh's comments, BJP's state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said,"Akhilesh is unable to keep his house in order and now he intends to extend a helping hand to others."

"People of Uttar Pradesh have not forgotten the corruption and gundaraj under Samajwadi Party and BSP governments," he added.
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