Despite several rounds of meetings followed by constant denials about talks on a grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh, there is a tacit acceptance that in the current political scenario, such an alliance would work in everyone’s favour — be it the ruling Samajwadi Party, the Congress, RLD, RJD or the JDU — in their attempts to “defeat the BJP” and restrict the automatic flow of minority votes to the BSP.
At present, those working at the ground say that more than the overall anti-incumbency factor against the government, it is the perception among OBCs that the SP was good for only Yadavs which is hurting the ruling party the most. More than the Yadav family feud, this perception has united non-Yadavs even in its strongholds like Mainpuri, Firozabad, Kannauj, Etawah, as well as eastern Uttar Pradesh. And the SP is well aware of the fact.
There is a general feeling among OBCs that after gaining power, Yadavs benefited in terms of appointments, contracts, prime postings in the police, etc. Muslims are not confident of supporting the Samajwadi Party either: a large section among them feels that the big promises made to them have yielded few actual benefits. Also, the perception that the SP failed to protect them during the Muzaffarnagar riots or in cases like that of the killing of Mohd Akhlaq last year, has harmed the SP with the minorities.
While non-Yadav OBCs are now looking to the BJP, the minorities are looking to the Bahujan Samaj Party which is leaving no stone unturned to woo them. Thus, it is not surprising that the BJP is focusing on Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel in eastern Uttar Pradesh and asking her to lead one of its Parivartan yatras.
This situation has affected the Congress too despite the month-long campaign of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi who promised loan waivers to farmers among other things. After several surveys, the Congress is now seriously considering the need for an alliance and had even discussed it with its party MLAs in UP. It is with this in mind that the Congress chose to talk of “Most backward caste” reservation within 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.
With a grand alliance, the Samajwadi Party hopes to dilute the antipathy of the non-Yadav communities towards it by getting Nitish Kumar (JDU) to campaign with it, especially in those regions where Anupriya Patel has been asked to focus. At the same time, the party hopes the alliance will boost Muslim confidence in its ability to defeat “the saffron party” and push the BSP into the background.
The alliance would also help the Congress which is already trying to make inroads into Dalit, MBCs and Upper Caste vote banks, especially among Brahmins and Thakurs who feel they have been neglected by the BJP.