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UP grand alliance a major challenge for BJP
RESMI SIVARAM January 12, 2019
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New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) seals an alliance in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. The formalisation of the grand alliance, which is part of a national coalition against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaves out the Congress, which is a weak force in UP. However, the alliance will not field candidates in two constituencies which are Congress strongholds - Rae Bareli, the seat of Sonia Gandhi and Amethi from where Rahul Gandhi gets elected.

An SP-BSP alliance in UP should worry the BJP a lot. According to the arithmetic presented by recent surveys, the alliance is capable of bagging up to 55 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, confining the BJP to below 240 in the Lok Sabha, denying a majority mark of 270. The UP alliance thus becomes all-important in the national election.

BJP leaders in the national capital expressed worry but took comfort in the hope that the opposition will ultimately split up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s worry was evident when he suggested that the other opposition parties are treating the Congress like a pariah.

BSP leader Mayawati celebrates her 63rd birthday on Saturday and has scheduled a media interaction along with SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, during which an announcement is expected on the alliance.

The two leaders had been warming to each other in the past several months, ever since their combined stand floored BJP candidates in some by-elections. Even Gorakhpur, the seat that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had won several times, was won by a small party called Nishad with the support of SP and BSP. Kairana went to the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Phulpur to the Samajwadi Party. It gave them hope that together, they can pull voters away from the BJP.

BJP swept 73 of 80 UP Lok Sabha seats in 2014. The SP and BSP are contesting 37 each this time, according to their MPs in Delhi. They wouldn’t challenge Sonia and Rahul. Rest of the five seats will go to allies RLD, Nishad Party and Peace Party.

Reports have emerged that the BJP is planning to dump 57 of its MPs in UP because of a strong anti-incumbency wave. That itself is a sign of an impending doom. If UP denies majority of seats, no party can hope to win the Lok Sabha. An internal survey of the party has shown that majority of party MPs in UP have failed to live up to the expectations of people.

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