The BSP partnered with Samajwadi Party (SP) and others in 2019 to form an anti-BJP ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and bagged just 10 seats. Apart from the loss of votes, there seem to be multiple reasons behind Mayawati’s decision to go solo but political analysts seem to be divided on the outcome. While some call it an advantage to BJP in the 2024 battle, others labelled it a “tactic to keep last-minute options open”.
August 23 turned out to be a big day in UP’s politics as the BSP chief put to rest all speculations of an alliance with BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the opposition’s INDIA bloc, noting that her party does not gain by joining any camp.
“The BSP had to bear more loss by getting into alliances in UP as its votes clearly got transferred to the alliance partner but the other parties do not have the right intention or the capability to transfer their votes to our candidate,” said Mayawati as she addressed party leaders in a crucial meeting in Lucknow to chalk out the BSP’s strategy for the 2024 battle.
To recap, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BSP partnered with SP to form an anti-BJP ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) along with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). However, the alliance failed to leave a mark and secured just 15 seats, while BJP won on 62 of the 80 seats. The total vote share of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ was 39.23 per cent. Of this, BSP’s vote share was 19.43 per cent whereas SP’s and RLD’s vote share was 18.11 per cent and 1.69 per cent respectively.
Other than the issue of vote transfer, the BSP chief also blamed NDA and INDIA alliances, saying both comprised mostly of parties that are anti-poor, casteist, communal, and pro-rich and thus her party had decided to go solo.
Mayawati also posted on social media platform X, previously Twitter, that BSP would fight solo — like it did in 2007 — by uniting crores of those neglected in society.
Commenting on the development, Shashikant Pandey, HoD, Department of Political Science at Bhimrao Ambedkar University, said: “BSP’s decision to be equidistant from both NDA and INDIA has confused political pundits as there is no reason for her to be so confident, particularly after the 2022 UP election where her party could win only one seat and her vote share reduced to 12.25 per cent. BSP’s decision may not be beneficial for the Opposition but will surely be advantageous to the ruling BJP government in the 2024 election.”
Pandey said even though BSP is literally decimated, it has pan-UP presence, especially amongst Muslims and Dalits and in a multi-cornered contest, its support may be crucial.
Elaborating further, he said if BSP contests independently, it will be beneficial for the BJP as she still has around 10-12 per cent votes in her kitty. However, her aligning with INDIA may reduce BJP’s seats in the politically crucial state.
“If BSP goes solo in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, it may prove beneficial for the BJP, especially in the minority dominated seats where past trends reflect that when both SP and BSP field minority candidates and BJP fields a Hindu candidate, it’s the BJP candidate who wins because of split in minority votes among SP-BSP and counter-polarisation of Hindu votes in BJP’s favour,” he added.
However, some political analysts also called BSP’s decision a tactic to keep last-minute options open. “Gone are the days when she was in a position to determine the course of UP polity. I think with this decision, she may be keeping her options open and at the eleventh hour, she may join either INDIA or NDA as individually her party stands nowhere,” another political analyst said.