By Saurabh Verma:
After their overwhelming and historic victory in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his allies have their eyes set on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017. Nitish and Party President Sharad Yadav-led Janta Dal United (JD(U)) has formed an alliance with Late Choudhary Charan Singh’s party Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) with the aim of making a difference in state assembly elections next year. JD(U) in UP has much to be modest about. But Nitish Kumar has addressed a rally in UP. The politics of Uttar Pradesh revolves around the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) have not performed too well in the last two elections.
In the last Lok Sabha elections of 2014, BJP swept all parliamentary seats except some due to a wave created by the charismatic personality of Narendra Modi. The Modi-led BJP won 72 parliamentary seats out of 80. Before this, the BJP had not made its presence felt in UP even in the assembly elections of 2012. Congress has also met the same fate as BJP. Congress, too, has been out of the power since 1988. The interesting thing is that the BJP has not been able to win the Awadh for more than a decade. The last CM from BJP was the present Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Then what can JD(U) do in its first attempt? It seems like a rhetorical question.
The Mahagathbandhan won tremendously in Bihar. But that formula did not work out for Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP who walked out of it on the issue of seat distribution. He was given a measly five seats which forced him to fight the Bihar elections on his own. The Bihar elections had a huge impact on national politics and changed the entire discourse. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal extended their support to Nitish Kumar. That election changed the face of politics as it pitched Modi against the rest. All parties joined hands from Jammu & Kashmir former CM Farooq Abdullah to Assam CM Tarun Gogoi. They believed that they could fight against Prime Minister Modi together, with a united front that was formed in Bihar.
But here the question is, will Nitish be able to influence the elections in UP? If the Nitish-led alliance with RLD contests all 403 seats in UP, what will the impact be? Generally, RLD contests elections in western UP; it won only nine seats out of 46 seats that it had contested. The only reason to cheer was their vote share. The RLD got 20% of the votes polled. So, why is Nitish creating an alliance which wouldn’t work?
In 2007, when the RLD contested on 254 seats, it got only 10 seats with a vote share of less than six percent. After 2007, RLD confined itself to the western part of UP but was still unable to do much better. Another important thing to remember is that the JD(U) contested 16 seats in 2007 but won only one. In the previous elections, it contested 219 but was unable to win a single seat. From these points, it seems that this alliance is unlikely to have an impact in the upcoming elections. The only door left open for this alliance is to take the Congress on their side.
The Congress has ‘traditional voters’ there but their vote share in last two elections was 9% and 13%. But if they fight these elections together, it might have some positive results for them. It’s very amusing that the condition of Nitish Kumar in Uttar Pradesh is same as the Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar.
BSP supremo Mayawati is not looking forward to any of these alliances as it had announced long back that it will fight on its own. And they seem very confident about their decision. Besides, Uttar Pradesh is going to be much tougher than Bihar because it’s likely that another face may enter the competition — Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The political slugfest will intensify as the election dates are announced. Many alliances will be formed, and many broken.