Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal have no grounds in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due in April-May 2017.
Samajwadi Party is in government in Uttar Pradesh where the party won complete majority in 2012 assembly polls and Akhilesh Yadav became state’s chief minister. But the party had humiliating loss in the last year Lok Sabha elections where it failed to win any seats outside the ruling Yadav family and had to restrict to just five seats – all won in SP’s strongholds.
Bihar has Nitish Kumar from JD (U) as its chief minister. When he had fought the last assembly elections in 2010, he was in alliance with BJP. The ruling coalition had got a thumping majority. But due to some reason (read Nitish Kumar’s ego clash with Narendra Modi, the prime-ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)), he broke the alliance and fought the Lok Sabha polls alone. His party met with a big loss and was decimated to only two seats. Nitish Kumar took its moral responsibility and resigned, installing Jitan Ram Manji, a Mahadalit, as the CM. But Manjhi didn’t turn out to be the sort of puppet he was thought to be. He soon started speaking a language of his own political ambitions – giving indications of even aligning with BJP. That made Nitish uncomfortable. And finally, when Manjhi openly rebelled and declined to toe the line, the party sacked him and Nitish became the CM again – in a scramble to gain victory in the upcoming assembly polls.
In UP, it’s SP Vs them (including Congress).
In Bihar, it’s JD(U) + RJD + Congress Vs them.
And in both states, BJP is the principal opposition. It won 73 seats in UP (with allies, 2 seats) out of 80 and 31 in Bihar (with allies, 9 seats) out of 40 in the last parliamentary elections. And the party is putting its all efforts to replicate the show in the upcoming assembly polls in both states – next month in Bihar and in 20 months in UP.
These two states together share 120 of 543 parliamentary seats in India and are the heartland of Indian politics.
For BJP, winning these states would further strengthen its pan-India appeal and would provide legitimacy to its claims of being the largest political party with a nationwide acceptance. Without having strong political grounds in UP and Bihar, BJP cannot claim so – given the fact that is has been in government in both these states.
SP, JD(U) or RJD are regional parties. In spite of best of their efforts, they have failed to go out of the state they belong to. And their political sanctity and existence lie in securing that home citadel first. Yes, if the citadels are like UP and Bihar, the political nerve centres in India, its gives a big leverage in the national politics.
After parting ways with BJP, Nitish is trying hard to find the way that could win the electoral game for him. Likewise, Lalu Yadav’s compulsion to survive politically saw an ally in Nitish and they both came together. Though Congress has become politically irrelevant in Bihar, to manage caste equations, it was also taken in the alliance. And in the name of reuniting the factions of the ‘Janata Parivar’, SP also joined the bandwagon.
Even if the political realties had the potential to go the other way.
And it seems they are going the other way.
And that has made for another flip-flop by Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Nitish Kumar may win the Bihar polls but his alliance with Lalu Yadav’s party may derail the show. Lalu’s corruption taint has the potential to sully his chances. And it may threaten SP’s chances in UP as well, where there is already a huge anti-incumbency wave against Akhilesh Yadav’s government.
Also, Congress may be politically irrelevant in Bihar, but in UP, it still matters, where it won 28 seats with around 12% vote share in 2012 assembly polls. If Congress and the SP fight together in Bihar but as political rivals in UP, it would create an embarrassing situation that the party would try to avoid – because there would be no answers.
The priority (political) for SP should be saving UP first in 2017 – and focusing on Bihar, with many contradicting factors, would jeopardize efforts – because, going by UP’s electoral history and the anti-incumbency against the SP government, there are real chances that the party is going to lose the 2017 polls.
We need to see the decision of Mulayam Singh Yadav to walk out of the ‘grand alliance’ in Bihar in this context, irrespective of the reason he is speaking about.