New Delhi: In a major political realignment for the 2019 general elections, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have decided to join hands and contest equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Both parties also said their alliance will continue for the assembly elections, slated for early 2022.
The two regional giants have decided to contest 38 seats each out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. They will not contest Amethi and Rae Bareli. Although there is no formal alliance between SP-BSP and Congress, the decision to stay away from Amethi and Rae Bareli is significant since the two seats are old bastions of the Gandhi family.
“It has been decided that BSP and SP will contest 38 seats each and we have kept two seats for smaller parties. We have decided not to contest Amethi and Rae Bareli and have kept the two seats for Congress leadership,” BSP chief Mayawati said during a press conference in Lucknow. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav was sitting beside Mayawati when the announcement was made in a joint press conference.
The two alliance leaders also made it clear that the alliance would continue till the next assembly elections in the state. “We have kept Congress out of the alliance so that Congress' votes do not transfer to BSP and SP. We have realised that the two parties would not gain much by joining hands with Congress,” Mayawati added.
On the question of who could be the possible leader of the alliance, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said he wanted someone from Uttar Pradesh to be the next Prime Minister of the country. “I had agreed to contest less number of seats so that the alliance between SP and BSP becomes a reality. We are grateful to Mayawati that she has given us equal number of seats. We want the next Prime Minister to be from Uttar Pradesh and everyone knows who I will support,” Akhilesh Yadav said.
The alliance is likely to be a cause of worry for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had not only swept the state during the 2014 general elections, catapulting it to a historic mandate in Lok Sabha, but had also won the assembly elections in the state with a thumping majority.
The Congress was part of an alliance with SP during the previous assembly elections in 2017. Rahul Gandhi-led Congress is attempting to build an alliance of Opposition parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and BJP is likely to politically attack it over its exclusion from the Uttar Pradesh alliance.
Regional Opposition parties such as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) congratulated former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers, Mayawati and Yadav, on coming together for an electoral alliance.
“This is not coming together of two parties but getting all the people together, including the poor, backward and minorities,” Mayawati said.