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Notwithstanding murmurs, dim chances of grand alliance in UP

Mulayam_ Mayawati

Lucknow: After the impressive electoral victory of the Grand Alliance or “Mahagathbandhan” in neighbouring Bihar, murmurs for a similar political arrangement ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh have begun, though it is highly unlikely.

While senior state leaders of different political leanings privately express the hope that “something or the other should be done to prevent the BJP from capturing power in Uttar Pradesh”, the animosity between Mulayam Singh Yadav of the ruling Samajwadi Party and former chief minister Mayawati of the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party will prevent such a political alignment in the state.

“Two years ago, Mulayam spoke on similar lines but Behen-ji (Mayawati) snubbed him, which speaks volumes of the hindrances to such a tie-up,” said veteran journalist Rajiv Rajan Jha.

Jha pointed out that Mayawati rarely forgave anyone and had not yet forgotten the incident of 1994 when alleged SP goons and supporters reportedly tried to kill her after their coalition fell apart.

A close aide of Mayawati concurred and said she “could be open to other political forces but not the Samajwadi Party”.

Naseemuddin Siddiqui, the closest aide of the Dalit leader, said that the BSP would not be part of any alliance in Uttar Pradesh, neither now nor in the future.

“The question does not arise. The people have rejected the BJP in Delhi and now in Bihar, but we have not forgotten what SP goons did to our leader in 1994,” the BSP general secretary said adding that the BSP would contest the assembly polls in 2017 on its own.

Ajit Singh, president of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, has for now ruled out the prospects of a grand alliance in UP and said his party would field candidates for all 400-plus assembly seats.

Singh said the grand alliance clicked in Bihar as there was no major anti-incumbency sentiment against Nitish Kumar whereas the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh was a “discredited one”.

Shivpal Yadav, younger brother of Mulayam Singh and state public works department minister who floated the idea of a grand alliance in UP, later said his party believed in maintaining equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP. However, he said it was not averse to an electoral understanding with like-minded forces driven by socialist ideology. He ruled out any tie-up with arch rival BSP.

The Congress, which is almost redundant in Uttar Pradesh politics, too is not excited about a repeat of the grand alliance experience in the state.

State Congress president Nirmal Khatri said the party workers’ sentiment was against any such tie-up, adding that his party would go on its own in the assembly elections.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems unperturbed by the murmurs.

State BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said such murmurs suggested that the ruling SP had lost confidence that Akhilesh Yadav would take the party to electoral success in 2017 and also that the BJP was still a force to reckon with in Uttar Pradesh.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

— Indo-Asian News Service