Akhilesh Yadav, stoked by recent bypoll successes after joining hands with Mayawati’s party, has made it clear that he wants to continue the alliance with his party’s long-time rival for the 2019 national election, even if it means riding shotgun.
“Our alliance with BSP will continue, in 2019 even if we have to give up a few seats we will do it. We have to ensure the BJP is defeated,” Akhilesh Yadav said at a public meeting on Sunday in Mainpuri.
Last month, an opposition backed candidate bagged the Kairana parliamentary seat in the third setback in a row for the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s BSP had joined forces to snatch two BJP strongholds earlier — Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya’s Phulpur.
Days after that victory, Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV: “I am ready to be practical. From my side, I know I have to run this alliance. This alliance is important. If I have to take two steps back, I am willing to do it.”
The victories have been taken by the opposition as a workable template for a similar alliance to take on the BJP in 2019.
However, it is clear that the SP-BSP relationship will be high-maintenance.
Right after the Gorakhpur-Phulpur victories, the Rajya Sabha elections signalled a bump in the newfound friendship as Mayawati, challenged by the BJP in the seat her party was contesting, failed to get her candidate into the upper house.
While insisting the alliance remained strong, she also implied that SP lawmakers should have supported her party man at the cost of their candidate.
When Mayawati said at her party’s leadership meet recently that she would go for partnerships only if the BSP’s share of seats was respectable, it stumped the SP somewhat.