Jaunpur: It could easily have been a deal-breaker. But tactful handling has perhaps turned the Jaunpur Lok Sabha constituency into a glue for the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
Traditional rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have struck alliances in the past as well, but caste tensions between Yadavs and Dalits, their respective vote banks, kept the enmity simmering. When it came to candidate selection for Jaunpur, both parties were at an impasse.
“Jaunpur is a Yadav-dominated area. Only a Yadav can defeat the BJP,” said an SP leader. “But giving the seat to the SP would disturb the maths. Akhilesh Yadav was very clear, both parties would get the same number of seats. So, a compromise was worked out.”
The alliance decided to field Shyam Singh Yadav, a retired Provincial Civil Services (PCS) officer and a Yadav, on a BSP ticket. This was not unlike the compromise worked out in last year’s Kairana bypoll when Tabassum Hassan contested on a ticket from the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which counts Jats as its core vote bank.
Shyam Singh Yadav is one of only two Yadav candidates given a ticket by the BSP. The other is Chandradev Ram Yadav in Kaisarganj.
“There was a time when we used to wait for ‘behenji’ to come back to power because it was difficult to live under the SP (Samajwadi Party) rule. Look at us today. Who would have thought a Yadav would be contesting on the ‘haathi’ (elephant) symbol?” says a BSP leader in Jaunpur.
SP worker Dev Narayan Yadav says, “I am happy with the alliance. The notion that Yadavs and Dalits oppress each other is greatly exaggerated, but it used to happen. Old enmities have been forgotten and they have come together. If we stay united, we will survive. I don’t mind voting for this alliance. BSP has done the right thing by giving a ticket to someone from our community.”
With 3.13 lakh Yadav voters, 1.84 lakh Muslims and 2.70 Jatavs, the alliance is hoping its arithmetic in Jaunpur is solid. The BSP has tried social engineering combinations before, fielding Brahmin candidates in bulk in the 2007 Assembly elections, but this will be the first time since the 1993 elections that they are trying to forge Yadavs, Dalits and Muslims into a solid voting bloc.
Shyam Singh Yadav, though, believes the alliance is wider than just Yadavs and Dalits. “The SP and BSP alliance is not just about Yadavs and Dalits, it has a wide social base. It represents all sections of society. There is a real unity among workers of both parties,” he says.
The coalition, says Yadav, is an ideological one. “When the alliance came together the last time, they formed the government in Uttar Pradesh. This was supposed to be an all-India alliance, but they were kept apart under a conspiracy. Mayawati is campaigning for Mulayam Singh Yadav, this has sent a strong message to the workers.”