In India, the credibility of exit polls has not been established beyond doubts. More often than not exit polls have proved unbelievably wrong. The latest being the case of Bihar where the majority of the pollsters predicted a BJP win. So all the assumptions of the possible scenario in the case of a hung assembly in UP is being done keeping the chances of exit poll once again failing to gauge the mood of the electorate. But exit poll results have triggered discussion and elicited responses from some of the main leaders.
Being the most politically important and the only state where chances of a fractured verdict are predicted, Uttar Pradesh is the cynosure of all political eyes and rightly so. With the majority of exit polls predicting the emergence of BJP as the single largest party falling short of a simple majority, the permutations and combinations that would be necessary to form a government with a semblance of stability are being widely debated. Of these, the incumbent chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s statement of a grand secular alliance has already sent shivers down BJP’s spine. Any grand secular alliance in UP is not possible without BSP on board. Now the question is what has changed in UP for both BSP and SP to shed their bitterness and to forge a new alliance?
Soon after the exit polls were out, Akhilesh Yadav spoke of the need to have a secular alliance “in order to provide security and prosperity to all sections of society” saying “all secular forces have a moral responsibility to come together to give the people of Uttar Pradesh a democratic government”. Though he did not specifically mention BSP, the reference was loud and clear.
Both parties had come together in the aftermath of Babri demolition and formed a government in 1993. In 1993, the BSP had contested 164 seats and won 67 while the SP had contested 256 seats winning 109. The government was formed with Mulayam as the chief minister.
The poll alliance which was a result of a political atmosphere of that time was made possible by the acumen of BSP supremo Kanshiram. Even though it was touted as the political coming together of OBCs and Dalits, the alliance did not survive. Accusing Mulayam Singh Yadav of fomenting a split in the BSP, Mayawati withdrew support to the government. The way Mayawati physically attacked by people including SP legislators and hurling casteist remarks against her in a government guest house soon after she withdrew support pushed the relations between these two leaders to the point of no return. The events that unfurled made BSP and SP as the two major parties and both ruled the state alternatively since then.
All these years Mayawati has seen Mulayam Singh as her bete noire and vice versa.
Despite this, two things might help warring parties to come together. After scoring a duck in the 2014 election to retain political relevance Mayawati needs at least to have a say in the new government if not herself forming the government. This reality might force her long-held stand against forging an alliance with other parties.
Another factor which might come in the way of a possible SP BSP alliance is Mulayam Singh. The veteran leader, who was not happy with SP forging the alliance with Congress, might find it more difficult to appreciate a relation with Mayawati. His recalcitrant stand against Mayawati might even push him to talk with BJP. His discomfiture while talking about grand alliances earlier in Bihar and in UP can be read as his soft peddling approach towards the saffron party. But fortunately for the secular camp, the writ of Netaji has now few takers in Samajwadi Party as was proved during the run-up to the assembly election when the family feud was out in the open. Mulayam Singh was forced to succumb to his son’s decisions after majority of leaders extended support to him.
So if an SP BSP post-poll alliance happens, the main factor, for sure would be the ascendency of BJP. If that situation emerges it will surely be another reflection of the diminishing role of Netaji in shaping Samajwadi Party ‘s strategy.