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SP-BSP Win in Saffron Bastions is Good News for the Opposition, But Not for Congress

The story from Gorakhpur and Phulpur is not only about the BJP’s loss at a time when the party’s electoral fortunes are at an upsurge, but also about how the Congress has been left out in the cold.

Sneha Mordani | CNN-News18

Updated:March 15, 2018, 2:08 PM IST
SP-BSP Win in Saffron Bastions is Good News for the Opposition, But Not for Congress
SP chose arch rival BSP over the Grand Old Party for the bypolls. A reason behind it could be the loss SP faced after joining hands with Congress for the UP assembly elections.

New Delhi: A humiliating rout in the chief minister’s backyard of Gorakhpur and a defeat in the deputy chief minister’s turf of Phulpur is the last thing BJP would have asked for after tasting success even in the unknown territories of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya just a few weeks ago. The defeat in UP by-elections put the saffron party on the mat.

On the other hand, underscoring the old adage ‘united we stand divided we fall’, the Samajwadi party and Bahujan Samaj party surged ahead -- together and emerging strong.

But the story from chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s erstwhile parliamentary constituency of Gorakhpur and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s erstwhile parliamentary constituency of Phulpur is not only about the BJP’s loss at a time when the party’s electoral fortunes are at an upsurge, but also about how the Congress has been left out in the cold.

That BJP has lost a prestige battle is clear. What is also clear is that the experiments of Gorakphur and Phulpur will further encourage the SP-BSP to join hands. 2019 is not too far and the fructification of anti-BJP front, a coalition vs the BJP appears to be inevitable. However, the Congress may not be the fulcrum it wishes to be.

Instance after instance, the Grand Old Party is proving to be an unreliable partner. Even for the bypolls, the SP chose its arch-rival BSP over the Grand Old Party. A reason behind it could be the battle “Apne UP ke ladke” (slogan used to refer to Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi) lost after entering into an alliance ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections a year ago.

Sources in the Congress indicate that the party is now unsure about what future holds. Attempts have been made to get the opposition to rally around the Congress party. The UPA chairperson’s dinner was one such attempt.

Bang in the middle of a Parliament session, which is seeing the BJP vs the rest, the message it wanted to send out was not lost on anyone. The Congress is not willing to give the space of the leader of the opposition pack. The timing of this defeat for the Congress could not have been worse.

Regional satraps, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee, as expected have started to flex their muscles. In spite of establishing their presence at Sonia Gandhi’s dinner, (Mamata sending a representative) both these leaders have made no bones about how they want the anti-BJP front to look like. TMC is aggressive and leading the charge inside Parliament and have not minced their words in expressing anguish at the Congress’s refusal to form an alliance in Tripura. Mamata Banerjee has dialled TRS supremo K Chandrashekhar Rao, who has given a clarion call for an Anti-BJP, Anti-Congress front.

In Maharasthra, Sharad Pawar has organized a march against the BJP that saw attendance of numerous opposition parties, including the Congress. The NCP chief is all set to host a dinner by the end of the month. Clearly, the show of opposition unity is not going to stop at Sonia’s dinner.

A distant third in the UP bypolls, and a string of electoral defeats in state assembly elections in the last four odd years, the Congress will need to rethink its strategy to convince smaller parties that it deserves to lead the pack.

(The author is a Special Correspondent and Anchor with CNN-News18)

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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