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Preferred Allies

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The smaller parties that are not amenable to the BJP are lining up to align with the Samajwadi Party in UP. Even the relative newbie, AAP, is holding ‘strategic discussions’ on a possible alliance. This is being done in the belief that the SP is the only opposition party that has any chance of winning the coming assembly elections. As such, this would be the right time to obtain a share of the cake. However, these parties should study the past record of all those that aligned with the SP, be it the BSP or the Congress.

The unpleasant truth is that the Samajwadi Party vote does not transfer to alliance partners. The most loyal and transferable vote at the behest of party leaders has been of the BSP. Unfortunately, this courtesy has not been returned by its alliance partners, except in the case of the BJP, a major cause of its decline. This time around, it seems the lesson is to be learned by the RLD, although it must be said that the regions where these parties have influence do not overlap.

The SP’s focus, at the present, is on ensuring that small caste-based parties do not enter the BJP fold. Since most of these are creations of individuals with disproportionate ambitions, it has more to do with assuaging egos rather than any particular political line. (This phenomenon will continue for as long as people vote along caste lines.) Every one of such parties is hoping to benefit from the Muslim ‘commitment’ to the anti-BJP option.

The big losers in this process are the Congress and the BSP but they are really left with no options. Their legislators and prominent leaders continue to defect to the main contenders. This will further ‘polarise’ voting behaviour, which is not good for democracy as all shades of opinion need to be represented in the assembly. If the process continues, it will become a presidential kind of choice between Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav. As seen in the United States, these days, it will split the electorate down the middle with the more extreme elements calling the shots. In fact, it would be much better if either side gets a landslide because the people are agreed on continuity or change. It will be a message to political parties to focus on policies rather than personalities. If there is to be a mixed verdict, it should be spread across several parties so that post-election coalitions can be formed. Unfortunately, that does not seem possible under the current scenario.