By Kriti Gupta
Following the Samajwadi party family feud, the Election Commission handed over the party symbol to Akhilesh Yadav, the party’s chief ministerial candidate, allowing him to cycle his way towards the UP elections. Since then the man has left no stone unturned to establish himself as an ideal candidate with a goal-centric approach.
Carrying forward the same intent, on January 22, the SP formed an alliance with the Congress after days of negotiations over seat-sharing. The latter has settled for one-fourth of the election seats (105 out of a total of 403) and has accepted Akhilesh Yadav as the face of the party. Surprisingly, a political party like Congress, that boats of riding solo and has shown firm disapproval for political alliances in the past, has now agreed for a junior party coalition.UP Congress president Raj Babbar with the SP’s Naresh Uttam and Kiranmoy Nanda in Lucknow on Sunday after they announced their alliance for the state. | Photo Courtesy: The Indian Express
Northern misadventures of the Congress
[su_pullquote align=”right”]The Congress witnessed a drastic downfall in the North since 1989 with Rajiv Gandhi’s ‘Ram Rajya’ campaign and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.[/su_pullquote]
The Congress has witnessed a continuous drastic downfall in the Northern belt since 1989. It started when the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, launched a campaign and spoke about a ‘Ram Rajya’. The demolition of the Babri Masjid at the same time had forced the Muslim community to shift to the Samajwadi Party.
This period then saw the rise of regional parties like the SP and the BSP. They thrived on casteist and communal politics. While the Mulayam-led affiliation was able to appease the Muslim faction, the BSP had pacified the Dalits and other marginalised groups. The Congress found itself in the middle of divisive politics. Not to forget, post Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, the Congress did not have a charismatic leader to attract the masses. Under Congress leaders like PV Narasimha Rao, the Babri Masjid was demolished and Sita Ram Kesari was unsuccessful in establishing a harmonious relationship with the people. Thus, the Congress had a lot of difficulty in finding a poll partner since the last 20 years.
Implications of the alliance
For Congress, forming an alliance with the Akhilesh-led SP is the only way to come back to power and defeat the BJP.
As for the Samajwadi Party, it needs to completely rebrand its image. Its top agendas should be to project itself as a party with a definite future, a strong sense of direction, and the capable of fulfilling the developmental needs of the state. In this three-cornered contest, the alliance could prove useful for the SP to garner the support of voters, especially the minorities.
The SP has already disclosed two lists of candidates that have occupied 268 seats, leaving only 30 names unannounced. However, given that 105 seats are now to be reserved for the Congress party candidates, the SP members want to make sure that their names remain on the list. It is expected that around 40 names will be replaced with the Congress candidates.
The consequences of an unsuccessful run at the elections, after having been named on Akhilesh’s list, could be severe. Will these candidates join the Lok Dal or the BJP? Or just sit home and sulk? Compared to the Congress, the ramifications of this will have a wider impact on the SP.
Given that the Muslim population in Western UP (approximately 26%) is higher than the than that in Uttar Pradesh as a whole (approximately 18%), Muslims will vote for the alliance only if they feel that their candidate can beat the BJP. Else, these votes will go to the BSP. While the BJP is confident that it will still be able to defeat the “Apne UP ke ladke” alliance, the BSP is baffled as Mayawati too had been promoting the idea of a Dalit-Muslim alliance this time.
The best bet
[su_pullquote align=”right”]The alliance has undoubtedly created more opportunities for both the parties than ever before but will Akhilesh Yadav be able to revive the same energy as five years ago?[/su_pullquote]
As of now, the SP-Congress alliance is the best alternative for the Muslim community. To return victorious, the alliance must gather a consolidated vote of the minorities. Of course, its Hindu vote bank should not be compromised. It needs to run through all classes, castes, and educational groups.
It is difficult to say if Akhilesh Yadav will be able to revive the same energy that had fetched his party a clean sweep five years ago. However, it is undeniable that the alliance has created more opportunities for both the parties than ever before.
Featured Image Source: The Tribune
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