The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) announcement of its support for Samajwadi party (SP) in the by-polls to Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh due on March 11 elates those who believe in secular politics.
BSP which was formed in 1984 and SP founded in 1992 have always been engaged in a tussle with each other except for the brief period between 1993 and 1995. It was with the support of BSP that SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1993. However, BSP withdrew its support in 1995. Mulayam Singh and BSP president Mayawati have been arch rivals ever since. And that even became the political picture of UP once. Though both the parties differ to the core in the ideology of the upper caste and communal politics endorsed by the BJP, the enmity between both leaders and the circumstances in UP turned both into strong foes. There was a time when SP and BSP could have easily swept UP if they had stood together. But they locked horns aggressively with each other during those times. It was BJP that benefitted the most by exploiting that opportunity. BJP’s spectacular victory in the last Lok Sabha polls as well and in the following assembly elections might have prompted both the parties to have a rethink. Both the parties now are apprehensive over losing their vote base. This is what might have led both parties into arriving at an understanding for the Lok Sabha by-polls. When SP gets the support of BSP in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, Mayawati will receive the support of SP in the Rajya Sabha polls. Even while this agreement is being discussed, Mayawati has made it clear that her party has not yet decided to form a poll alliance with SP. The latest reports say that the Congress as well has been contemplating withdrawal of their candidates from Phulpur and Gorakhpur.
The political upper hand gained by the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah triggers concern among those who believe in a democratic future for the nation. The parties, despite their legacy and organizational expertise, can but stand speechless before the BJP’s march when it raises majoritarianism and create a communal divide among the people, backed by the RSS armed with extensive organizational strength and influence. And most recently, the party has gained immense confidence by seizing Tripura which had been under the CPM rule for decades.
It need not be mistaken that the BJP is winning the polls because a very large majority of people are in support of the BJP and its politics. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that ushered the BJP in power at the Centre, the party had won just 31 per cent votes. Even if one takes the total vote share of the NDA, it will come to only 36 per cent. In other words, the majority of people are those who had voted for parties against the BJP. But their votes were scattered among several parties, and that helped the BJP grab power at the Centre and in states. The success the BJP earns one after the other capitalizing on the disunity among the Opposition parties will also create a situation when they will be a majority in Rajya Sabha too. And the BJP grand scheme is to use the brutal majority in the Lok Sabha, and the majority they will gain in the Rajya Sabha, to cook strategic legislation and make a country and a constitution to their liking. And many now do realize that if that scheme becomes a reality, things will come to such a pass that even an Opposition will cease to exist. For that very reason they recognize now that there is no option other than to "unite or perish". And the news from Uttar Pradesh is proof of such a realization.
At the same time while declaring that she would support SP in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, Mayawati was ruling out the possibility of a political alliance. The reason for such a decision is mysterious – it could be organizational compulsions that forced her to say so. But had she foreseen a time when the very organization will disappear, she would not have adopted such an approach. It is unfortunate that not everyone is capable of foreseeing such a picture. Even in the CPM, described as a party with intellectuals, facing as they do a series of setbacks in elections, the ongoing discourse is as if they would take on Fascism solo. When there is near faction-ridden argument on the issue if there can be an alliance with the Congress, outside observers can watch it only with strange curiosity. Such people can only be told that there won't be any use lamenting after everything goes out of hand.