The map to any form of a potential kingdom necessitates capturing a certain nerve centre.Those needing to conquer the parliament in New Delhi have to go through and win Lucknow, this political idiom of sorts is fundamentally an electoral reality. When Modi stormed into a mandate in 2014, an irreplaceably magnum part of it was owing to a thundering performance in UP.
Being the largest state, elections every time in Uttar Pradesh has had its profound cascading effect elsewhere.And in the hindsight as well as in the long run, Uttar Pradesh for 2017 assembly are very much anticipated and are up for grabs to make and break fortunes across party lines.
Ever since Amit Shah scripted colossally a figure of 71 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, the much complicated fractured power spoils in Uttar Pradesh seemed to have secured a decisive direction. Questions started emerging if this phenomenal performance achieved by the BJP will translate into the party securing a simple majority in 2017 and ending the long spell of regional party domination in the state. As much as Modi factor seems to have found favour here, undoubtedly Uttar Pradesh also caters to other polarising factors such as caste, religion and demography. Early surveys pertaining to some television channels were quite resolute in predicting a hung assembly in ensuing 2017. However, few have projected a neck to neck encounter with BJP principally remaining one of the contenders with the other party being BSP and SP in expected tug of duo in a hung scenario. India Today has given BJP a shot in the arm by forecasting them to attain single largest party which may be a prelude to garnering the required majority numbers. With the BJP expected to capitalise, it may have sent shudders across other parties of the spectrum with the news of a grand alliance brewing in New Delhi for the state.Replicating the model of a grand fanfare which fetched them Bihar which slightly stalemated the BJP juggernaut, a similar arrangement here will have its own set of challenges.
Firstly a SP Congress RLD tie up will need a robust seat sharing formula. Considering an existing civil war of sorts in the SP with Akhilesh Yadav fighting his over ticket distribution and number of seats will be crucial and negotiations pertaining to it may jeopardise the formation with the Congress demanding more pound of flesh and RLD expecting to opportunistically cling along.
But moving over seat sharing numbers, the principle behind the move seemingly may be to secure the minority vote and prevent it from splitting which may help the BJP in an already charged and polarised political landscape. With the minority voters too discontented with the ruling SP following Muzaffarnagar riots and other skirmishes, this supposed tactical counter polarising alliance seems to have been mooted for the same idea. Although it was a success in Bihar, the situation is different here.
Opposition in Patna was united, whereas in Lucknow a resurgent Mayawati forms another distinct pole in the elections. The grand alliance has no BSP which still could perpetuate a split in minority votes coupled by its continuing exercise to socially engineer minorities with Dalits. This aspect may hamper a grand alliance experiment here which was successful in Bihar.
The other difference between the two Hindi heartlands is the choice of CM face. Nitish Kumar was still popular inspite of his split with the BJP and he became the face of the alliance which they could bank upon resisting anti incumbency. Akhilesh Yadav in realms of popularity race may be ahead of others but is no where close to Kumar and his govt does face an undercurrent of a visibly seething anti incumbency. The Congress even if offered a deputy CM position, has a lukewarm Sheila Dikshit at the helm who happens to be an outsider. This again contrasts something in Bihar where Nitish was supported by Lalu Yadav who even if down nevertheless was a strong man from the state politics. The road shows and the Kisan yatras of Rahul Gandhi and the services of Prashant Kishor may not really help or inspire Congress much which may have them succumbing to the alliance for a better crumb of double digit seats rather than a single digit ones. RLD hobnobbing to the Jats just as Dalits cater to Mayawati have lost their relevance with BJP slowly eating into their vote bank and are always at the fence to cling with any party donning opportunistic hat.
So if a grand alliance is announced between the SP Congress and RLD, it may just help them put a better show instead of fighting individually as principally they want to thwart the BJP running amok in the Uttar Pradesh at the expense of their political survival. Even if BJP seems to have won the state in 2014, its nonetheless going to be a challenging retort for them to win Lucknow with its admixture of development as well as polarised political terrain in the offing. As much as demonetisation and countering black money may be in the realm, so is to carve a CM face that can spearhead a little advantage it may be enjoying in surveys and polls as the elections to the state draw in near.
Some political pundits are touting Uttar Pradesh as a semi final, preluding itself to 2019 general elections. Although a win for BJP will bolster the party to scale newer heights, a loss may give them a big blow seeking introspection in their over flowing electoral successes in the country post 2014. For all the proponents of the grand alliance, it’s a matter of political survival and somewhere the inclination towards a political togetherness of convenience is about realising the same rather than drumming coming together of secular forces.