Battleground UP: Fragmented opposition gives BJP an edge

Lucknow: A thoroughly fragmented opposition in Uttar Pradesh seems to be giving a definite advantage to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

The multi-cornered contest that seems inevitable in almost all constituencies will help the BJP and also overcome the anti-incumbency factor to a large extent.

To begin with, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance is contesting all 78 of the 80 seats, leaving Amethi and Rae Bareli as a goodwill gesture for the Congress.

But the Congress is contesting 73 seats, leaving seven seats for the Samajwadi clan and the Rashtriya Lok Dal leaders.

The seats left by the Congress include Mainpuri, Ferozabad, Kannauj, Badaun, Azamgarh, Baghpat and Muzaffarnagar.

Shivpal Singh Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) is making the contest four-cornered by putting up candidates on all 80 seats.

The Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra, is also putting up candidates on five seats while independent legislator Raja Bhaiyya is fielding candidates from his newly formed Jansatta Party.

Professor Ramesh Dixit, a retired political scientist and now the state President of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said: “It is unfortunate that secular forces seem determined to defeat the BJP but cannot resolve their differences when it comes to seat sharing.

“Secular leaders should have set their egos aside and made adjustments. The battle would have been easier.”

Shivpal Yadav, who heads the breakaway faction of the Samajwadi Party known as PSP, is being termed as a ‘vote katua’ (vote cutter) in the local parlance. The Samajwadis accuse him of helping the BJP by hurting the SP-BSP-RLD alliance.

He denied the charge and said: “The Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party is a grassroots organization that has it own following. It is the Samajwadi Party that has compromised with its ideology and has become subservient to the BSP. As for giving the BJP an edge, I can tell you that people will vote for the party that gives a tough challenge to the BJP.”

Congress leaders admit that division of secular votes will work to BJP’s advantage but insist that they are not to blame for the prevailing situation.

Congress spokesperson and former MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh said: “Voters are well aware of who can fight the BJP at the national level. It is the Congress alone that has been pitted against the BJP. We wanted a grand alliance but seat adjustment has to be respectable.”

The Samajwadi Party insisted that the SP-BSP alliance would walk away with most of the 80 parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh. “Together, SP and BSP will get a majority of seats and the BJP will be reduced to a single digit,” said SP spokesman Anurag Bhadauria.