Lucknow: Given their bitter rivalry of the past, the new-found bonhomie between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party has raised many an eyebrow. But this is not the first time the two parties have joined hands for an assembly election in Uttar Pradesh. Twenty five years ago, the then party chiefs Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram had contested the state assembly elections together and went on to form the government.
In 1993, communal polarisation had gripped the state due to the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya the previous year. The issue of Ram Janmabhoomi was a hot topic and the BJP was quite confident of winning the UP assembly polls.
To stop the BJP juggernaut when it was at the peak of Ayodhya movement, SP and BSP forged a pre-poll alliance under which SP won 109 seats and BSP won 67 seats out of 156 assembly seats they contested. While the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 177 seats, it could not form the government as SP-BSP managed to forge alliance with other small parties and formed the government.
But the government could not last for long due to growing political differences between Mulayam and Mayawati, and both parties went their separate ways in 1995.
Before the 2017 state assembly elections too, the BSP chief was not ready to forge an alliance with the SP as Mulayam and his brother Shivpal Yadav were actively involved in the party politics. But things started to change after Akhilesh Yadav took over as the party president.
After Akhilesh took over, Mayawati buried the hatchet over the infamous guest house incident of 1995 – when she was targeted by SP goons who had barged into a guest house and attacked BSP workers. But it was Akhilesh who first made the attempt to mend the fences by calling Mayawati his ‘bua’ in public speeches and the two eventually made peace.
After successfully testing the BSP-SP formula in the Gorakhpur and Kairana by-elections, the parties have now decided to come together and forge an alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The formal announcement of the alliance is expected on Saturday in joint press conference by the respective party chiefs and the seat-sharing will be discussed at a later stage, sources said.
Whether the parties will manage to hold on to their caste-based vote banks in the general election remains to be seen but the alliance is geared to give the ruling government a touch fight.