New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on Saturday, deciding to contest on 38 seats each out of the total 80 and keeping the Congress out of their alliance. The SP also hinted at supporting BSP president Mayawati as a prime ministerial candidate.
The two regional parties said they would not field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi respectively. They also left two seats for smaller allies, without naming them. But there have been reports on talks with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) for a place in the alliance.
The former arch-rivals announced their Lok Sabha poll arrangement at a joint press conference addressed by BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. âYeh naye varsh 2019 mein nayi rajnaitik kranti ka sandesh mana jayegaÂ (This will be regarded as a new political revolution in the new year 2019),â Mayawati said, asserting that the alliance aims to win polls and serve backward communities, including dalits and Muslims. Hinting at a long-term arrangement with the SP, Mayawati said, âThe alliance will last long, beyond Lok Sabha polls and in the UP Assembly elections.â
Mayawati also mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah saying, âThis press conference will rob the guru-chela of their sleep.â
Referring to the BJPâs defeat in Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary bypolls last year, she said, âI have full confidence that just as our alliance defeated the BJP in the Lok Sabha bypolls, we will crush the saffron party in the general elections.â
Reacting to the formalisation of SP-BSP alliance, the BJP said the two parties had come together for their survival, and not for the country or Uttar Pradesh. âThey know they cannot fight Mr Modi on their own and their opposition to him is the sole basis for their alliance,â Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of the partyâs national convention in Delhi.
With 80 Lok Sabha constituencies, Uttar Pradesh is the most crucial for the BJP to return to power in Lok Sabha. In 2014, the BJP won 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal won two. The SP won five seats and the Congress two, while the BSP drew a blank.
Explaining why the Congress was not included in the alliance, Mayawati said during that partyâs rule over the years, poverty, unemployment and corruption had grown and there were scams in defence deals.
âJust as the Bofors scam uprooted the Congress, the BJP will witness the same fate because of its involvement in the Rafale scam,â she said, referring to the graft allegations against the ruling party in a deal for French fighter aircraft.
She said her party had never benefited from its tie-ups with the Congress in the past.
Drawing a parallel between the BJP and the Congress, Mayawati said the Congress had imposed Emergency while the BJP is responsible for an undeclared Emergency.
Mr Yadav also hinted that he would support Mayawati as prime ministerial candidate.
âYou know whom I will supportâ¦ I have said in the past that UP has always given the PM (to the country), and I will be happy if it gives the PM again,â he said in a indirect reference to his support for Mayawati as Prime Minister.
The two leaders did not make it clear whether they will themselves contest the polls, which are to be held by May.
Mayawati accused the BJP of funding Shivpal Yadav, who recently floated the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia, and suggested that his party is being ârun by the BJPâ and is meant to split the non-BJP votes. âThe money will go down the drain,â she said.
Referring to a new chapter in BSPâs ties with the SP, Mayawati said she had put the 1995 Lucknow guest house incident â when she was attacked by SP supporters â behind her for national interest. Â
Mr Yadav also returned the favour by asking SP workers to ensure Mayawati gets the respect due to her. âMayawatiâs respect is my respect. An insult to her is an insult to me. If BJP men or others say anything against her, it will be against me,â Mr Yadav said.
To a question on seat-sharing with the RLD in western Uttar Pradesh, Mr Yadav said media would be informed about it in due course.
Peeved over Mayawatiâs accusation that it was being run by the BJP, Shivpal Yadavâs party hit back at the BSP chief, saying everyone knew who had formed the government with the saffron party earlier.
âThe allegation against Shivpalji is baseless. Everyone in the state knows who formed the government with the BJP, and which party sells ticket and is involved in corruption. Shivpalâs fight against communalism is four-decade old,â said party chief spokesperson C.P. Rai.
âThis is an alliance of opportunism. Any âsamajwadiâ will not accept it,â he said. Â
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee welcomed the SP-BSP alliance.