BSP seeks 40 out of 80 seats in UP’

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LUCKNOW, Jun 02: BSP chief Mayawati remained mum on the victory of “grand alliance” in Kairana and Noorpur byelections, leading political circles to speculate that the conspicuous silence could be an essay in political eloquence targeted at prospective partners.

Mayawati’s refraining from commenting on Samajwadi Party on the setback for BJP stood out both because of enthusiastic celebrations by her partners for the two bypolls as also because BSP’s Dalit supporters were crucial for the opposition’s twin successes.

BSP sources said the silence was strategic and meant to signal to the prospective partners that they should leave at least 40 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP for the party. While they spoke on condition of anonymity, the comment tallies with the gameplan Mayawati recently unveiled before party workers. While addressing party workers in Lucknow last week, Mayawati had said that if BSP was not given “sammanjanak” (respectable seats), she could even contest the elections alone.

However, despite having pulled off wins with BSP’s help in three byelections— Gorakhpur and Phulpur LS seats and Noorpur assembly seat— SP does not seem to be eager to commit itself to specific numbers. Asked to respond to Mayawati’s “respectable” formula, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav merely said his party is known for respecting people. “Aap jaante hain respect dene mein hum log aage hain … aur respect kaun nahin dega yeh bhi aap jaante hain (You all know we always give respect …. and you also know who does not give respect),” he said.

As per a formula proposed earlier, SP and BSP had considered fielding their candidates in seats where they finished second in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, with 10 seats here or there. For BSP, this added up to 34 seats out of 80 while SP’s share worked out to 31.

Given that claims of Congress and RLD will also have to be accommodated in order to replicate Kairana-type unity across the state in 2019, Mayawati’s pitch can create complications for others.

BSP feels justified in making the claim because of all the likely partners of the proposed alliance,the Dalit outfit is best suited to transfer the support of its supporters to whomsoever it wishes to align with. Although SP commands a staunch following among Yadavs and, to a lesser extent, among Muslims, political circles doubt whether Akhilesh can get their allegiance to his allies.

“BSP is likely to make a pitch for at least 50% of the total seats. This is based on both its vote share and the number of seats where it came second in 2014. In all assembly seats, BSP has at least 5,000 votes which it can easily transfer to its alliance partners,” said party sources. BSP’s alliance with Congress for the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls slated for later this year will also hinge on how many seats SP and BSP concede to it for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. By the formula proposed earlier, Congress would end up with eight seats, two of which it won and six more where it stood second.

“The MP seat-sharing formula, in case an alliance is worked out between BSP and Congress, will be determined by the formula in UP, which should hopefully be decided within a month or so,” said Congress sources. A BSP member indicated that in MP, Mayawati would not settle for anything less than 40 or 50 seats in an assembly of 230 seats.

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