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SP-BSP Gambit


It is obvious that, despite the desperate sycophancy of some, most members of the future ‘Mahagathbandhan’ are averse to the idea of Rahul Gandhi becoming PM. This is why the recent suggestion by DMK’s MK Stalin in this regard was ignored by other members of a future coalition. The regional leaders, who would, together, provide most of the seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections if the BJP goes into a major decline, know from past experience that the Congress claims the top post on the basis of its having more seats than any other single contributor, even if the others have considerably more in total. So, they do not want such a situation to develop.
The first step in this direction has been taken in politically crucial UP, where the SP, BSP and RLD have reportedly finalised seat sharing, leaving the Congress out in the cold. This makes eminent sense, as the Congress only benefits from such arrangements and is unable to transfer to its partners its share of the votes, which invariably shift to the BJP. The BSP would, it is reported, contest on 38 seats, SP on 37 and the RLD on 3. The SP, from its share, would accommodate other small parties, while the seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi would be left uncontested. A trap, actually, for a straight contest with the BJP may leave the Gandhis stranded.
In effect, the Congress has been reduced to the status of a ‘vote-katwa’ in UP, as contesting on its own would reduce it to a non-entity – much like Mayawati’s zero in the previous election. All it will succeed in doing is stealing some of the non-Yadav, non-Jatav vote from the BJP. Undoubtedly, if things go according to plan, the results will bring Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati to the forefront of any future coalition.
It may be noted that the BJP has not been doing too badly in straight contests with the Congress, despite anti-incumbency. Even in Rajasthan and MP, it managed to retain a large percentage of votes. However, in Chhattisgarh, where Mayawati and Ajit Jogi had put up a third front, the BJP lost overwhelmingly. It is expected that the Congress will play the same role in UP.
Non-Congress, non-BJP governments have emerged in the past, but have proved fragile owing to internal contradictions. Can a future alliance of regional leaders perform successfully by keeping the Congress in a junior role? In fact, in case the BJP falls a little short of a majority in 2019, is there any guarantee that some of these leaders would not march into its camp? Whatever may be the case, the ‘Bua and Bhatija’ in UP seem to have made up their minds!