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Congress Becomes Bone of Contention Between Different Ambitions of Akhilesh and Mayawati

BSP chief Mayawati's calculated silence both before and after Kairana verdict has left many in the Samajwadi Party a bit perplexed. No one really knows what Behenji's next move would be.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:June 11, 2018, 5:34 PM IST
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Congress Becomes Bone of Contention Between Different Ambitions of Akhilesh and Mayawati
A file image of Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.
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Lucknow: “Leaving a seat in alliance is like chopping off a finger,” Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav once made this observation in a meeting with his close associates. Now his son Akhilesh as party president is willing to play second fiddle and 'sacrifice' seats to foe-turned-friend BSP as the two parties give final touches to the poll pact for 2019 elections.

Addressing a rally on Sunday, Akhilesh said, “We are committed to the alliance with the BSP and will continue working with them, even if we have to sacrifice 2-4 seats, we are not going to stop. We will bring the BJP down.”

Sources tell News18, that the triple victories in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana Lok Sabha bypolls have triggered some really hard-nosed bargaining within the proposed mahagathbandhan.

BSP chief Mayawati's calculated silence both before and after Kairana verdict has left many in the Samajwadi Party a bit perplexed. No one really knows what Behenji's next move would be.

The BSP, in a press release issued on May 26, expressed its willingness to go for alliances if the offer is 'respectable'. Since then, Mayawati has maintained a studied silence that has unnerved the potential allies.

Another bone of contention between the two big wigs of the UP Politics, SP and BSP, is their approach towards the Congress.

As a senior BSP leader, present in last month's national level meet of the party and not willing to be named, said: “While people on the ground, voters in general are in favour of the alliance, it’s the leaders who are approaching the polls with their own agenda. While for our leader Mayawati ji is concerned about 2019, for Akhilesh, the real politics is about 2022 UP polls”.

It is because of this difference of approach that BSP chief Mayawati wants to keep Congress in good humour. Through Congress, BSP can hope of a possible victory on some seats in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan, where the party has pockets of influence.

For Congress, 'friendship' with the BSP is equally productive. Mayawati's credentials as a Dalit stalwart can help it galvanise the strong Dalit vote bank in several states where it will be the much bigger ally partner.

A senior congress leader, who is also a legislator in Uttar Pradesh, said, “Alliance or understanding with the BSP will be the one transcending across boundaries of UP. It will be one that will be mutually beneficial to both.” He further added “such an alliance will also prove to be the biggest magnet for Dalits and Minorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh”.

Clearly, as of now, Mayawati is keeping an eye on a possible larger political role in national politics post 2019 verdict.

A lot can happen in case of a fractured mandate, and in such a scenario a good tally in Lok Sabha and friendship with Congress party can well go in her favour.

However, for Akhilesh 2019 is absolutely not about any larger personal ambitions in national politics.

Political observers say the bigger challenge is the state Assembly elections in 2022 and the subsequent race for being the chief minister. With this vision in mind, Congress or no Congress does not make a difference for Akhilesh in 2019.

A senior Samajwadi Party leader, not willing to be named, told News18, “Our experience with Congress in 2017 Assembly polls had not been good. The alliance proved counter-productive for us. Truly speaking for 2019 we actually don't need Congress to defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. SP-BSP alliance alone can do that.”

On the question of why Akhilesh offered to sacrifice for keeping the alliance with BSP, the SP leader said 'Akhilesh ji is the architect of this alliance and as an architect we are even ready to make some sacrifices”.

However, political observers feel that it can also be an attempt by Akhilesh to send out this larger message to minorities and non-BJP Hindu voters about his commitment to keep the alliance.

In case things go wrong at last moment, the Samajwadi Party can then go out to voters with “their proven commitment to fight the BJP”.

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