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Uttar Pradesh parties welcome Bihar development, but no sign of similar realignment against BJP in sight

Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at an election rally for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in Varanasi. File

Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at an election rally for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in Varanasi. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have welcomed the coming together of the warring Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] and Rashtriya Janatah Dal (RJD) in Bihar, but gave no indication of a similar realignment of forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the politically crucial State in the run-up to the 2024 parliamentary election.

The parties acknowledge that defeating the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, which send 80 members to Lok Sabha, is key to oust it from power at the Centre. But they remain shy of taking any initiative to unite forces against the BJP, more so considering the poor results of such alliances in the past.

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The BJP's ascendency to power coincided with the dramatic increase in its tally in Uttar Pradesh -- from 10 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election to 71 in 2014 and 62 in 2019.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), the main Opposition party in the State, had tried different alliances in the last few elections but failed to defeat the BJP.

In the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, it allied with the Congress, but the BJP won the election with two-thirds majority. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the SP formed a grand alliance with its arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and fought the 2022 Assembly polls in alliance with the RLD and some other parties, but failed to dent the BJP's electoral supremacy in the State.

Akhilesh Yadav welcomes Bihar development

On August 2, when Nitish Kumar announced quitting the BJP-led NDA and joining hands with the RJD to form the government in Bihar, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav had welcomed the decision.

"This is a good beginning today, the day when the slogan of 'Bharat chhodo' (Quit India) was given against the British. If the slogan of 'BJP bhagaao' (drive away the BJP) is coming from Bihar, I feel that in other States also, parties will stand up against the BJP and so will the people," he had said.

But, his party has not expressed any intent to work for a similar realignment in his home State.

Talking to PTI, Samajwadi Party's national secretary and chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said the SP is capable of defeating the BJP and added it will not enter into an alliance with the BSP led by Mayawati.

"SP will fight elections on its own," Mr. Chaudhary said.

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Congress leader and former MP P.L. Punia, however, sees a sign of hope in Uttar Pradesh too.

The Congress is part of the 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) in Bihar.

Mr. Punia told PTI if the Opposition parties can unite against the BJP in Bihar, why not in Uttar Pradesh. He, however, stressed that he has no information of any move being made in this direction so far.

First successful experiment by Mulayam Singh and Kanshi Ram

The first experiment of alliance in Uttar Pradesh to check the progress of BJP was made by SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 1993 Assembly elections. He, along with BSP founder Kanshi Ram, had formed the government in the State.

However, within two years, the SP-BSP alliance broke down due to mounting conflict between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.

After nearly 24 years, in 2019, the SP led by Akhilesh Yadav contested the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BSP. Ms. Mayawati's party got 10 seats but the SP had to be satisfied with only five seats and this formula did not work very well.

Also read | BJP will only get two seats in Bihar in the next Lok Sabha election: RJD leader Manoj K. Jha

The SP-BSP alliance also ended a few days after the election results were announced.

The BSP then fought the 2022 Assembly elections on its own and announced that it would not have a tie-up with anyone in the future too.

BSP chief Mayawati has claimed in her organisational meetings that the Dalit-centric party is capable of defeating BJP in U.P.

2022 U.P. Assembly polls

In the recent Assembly elections, all the major Opposition parties had opted for different paths.

The SP entered into alliance with smaller parties, while the Congress and the BSP contested on their own. The SP alliance weakened soon after the completion of the election process.

Among the parties with whom the SP had allied in the recent U.P. polls, the Progressive Samajwadi Party (Lohia) led by Shivpal Singh Yadav and the Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Indian Samaj Party (Subhaspa) have already quit the alliance.

Shivpal Singh Yadav said in Etawah on Friday that the kind of maturity shown by the leaders of Bihar is needed in Uttar Pradesh.

"Only then change can be brought here," he said.

Also read | Rajbhar eyes alliance with BSP; third front likely to emerge in U.P.

Mr. Rajbhar, who advocated the rights of most backwards-Dalits in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, recently said, "If Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati want the welfare of Dalits and Backwards then they will have to come together. If this is not done then BJP will win all 80 seats in U.P. in the Lok Sabha elections." Mr. Rajbhar, who had allied with the BJP in the 2017 Assembly polls, stressed on the need for Opposition unity.

"The change in Bihar has taught the Opposition to unite and its echo is being heard in Haryana," Mr. Rajbhar said, adding that if the Opposition parties including SP and BSP fight together, the BJP can be wiped out.

He also voiced support for Nitish Kumar as the Opposition's face in the 2024 general election.

SP seems uninterested in major alliances

Mr. Choudhary of the SP, however, stressed that in Uttar Pradesh only the Samajwadi Party is capable of defeating the BJP.

"The political developments in Bihar are fine. In Uttar Pradesh we are already in strength," he said.

Of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP now has 64 after it won the recent bypolls in two seats once considered the bastions of the SP -- Azamgarh and Rampur. The BJP's ally Apna Dal (S) has two MPs.

Uttar Pradesh BJP leaders sought to puncture the Opposition parties' euphoria after the Bihar development.

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"Though there is no harm in daydreaming...daydreams are not fulfilled," BJP MP Subrat Pathak said, adding Narendra Modi is counted as a popular leader not only in the country but across the world.

The Apna Dal (Sonelal) led by Union minister Anupriya Patel has dismissed any impact of the Bihar development event in Uttar Pradesh.

Party spokesman Rajesh Patel said Nitish Kumar has no influence in U.P. and his party having two MPs and 12 MLAs is solidly with the BJP.


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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 12:09:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/uttar-pradesh-parties-welcome-bihar-development-but-no-sign-of-similar-realignment-against-bjp-in-sight/article65767964.ece