Once arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party announced Saturday their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sharing 38 seats each and keeping the Congress out of the alliance. The parties, however, said they would not field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
They also left two seats out of the 80 in the state for smaller allies, without naming them. But there have been talks with the Rashtriya Lok Dal. Making the announcement jointly with SP president Akhilesh Yadav here, BSP chief Mayawati mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. "This press conference will rob the guru-chela of their sleep," she said.
"I 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," she said, referring to the BJP's defeat in Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary bypolls. Reacting to the development, the Bharatiya Janata Party said the two parties had came together for their survival, and not for the country or Uttar Pradesh.
"They know they cannot fight Modi on their own and their opposition to him is the sole base for their alliance," Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of the party's National Council meeting in Delhi.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee welcomed the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh. In 2014, the BJP had won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh while its ally Apna Dal bagged 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 party's rule over the years, poverty, unemployment and corruption grew and there were scams in defence deals.
"Just as the Bofors scam uprooted the Congress, the BJP will witness the same fate because of its involvement in the Rafale scam," she said, referring to the graft allegations against the ruling party in a deal for French military aircraft.
She also said in tie-ups with the Congress in the past, her party did not benefit.
"In the past, I have seen that our votes get transferred to the Congress, but not vice-versa. We do not gain from an alliance with the Congress, whereas the vote transfer is perfect in an SP-BSP tie-up," Mayawati said.
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. The joint press conference was held at a posh hotel here after top leadership of both the parties had met in New Delhi recently to discuss the broad parameters of an alliance to take on the BJP in the parliamentary elections.
To a question on seat-sharing with the Rashtriya Lok Dal in western UP, Akhilesh Yadav said the media would be informed about it in due course. Asked whether it was a "natural alliance", Mayawati said, "This will last long, beyond Lok Sabha polls and in the UP Assembly elections." Asked if he would support Mayawati as prime minister if the situation arises, Yadav avoided a direct reply. "You know whom I will support," he said.
"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." 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 spending a massive amount of money on Shivpal Yadav, who recently floated the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia, suggesting that it was being "run by the BJP" and was meant to split the non-BJP vote.
"The money will go down the drain," she said. Mayawati said she had put the 1995 guest house incident -- when she was attacked by SP supporters -- behind her for national interest.
"The BSP-SP alliance had been successful in the past and we will stop the BJP in UP if there is no misuse of EVMs (electronic voting machines) and the issue of Ram temple is not flared up," she said. Yadav asked SP workers to ensure Mayawati gets the respect due to her.
"Mayawati's respect is my respect. An insult to her is an insult to me. If any BJP men or others say anything against her, it will be against me," Yadav said, seeming to warn against a repeat of the 1995 incident. He asked party workers to be on guard against the BJP.
"It can orchestrate riots and take other measures to create differences with BSP workers. You all have to work with patients and strengthen brotherhood," he said. On the formation of the alliance, Yadav said, "I had said that if I have to take two steps backwards for the alliance, I will do it," Akhilesh said, thanking Mayawati.
(With inputs from agencies.)