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Will post-poll tie-up solve the puzzle?

Arun Chaubey
It is too early to say that political parties in Uttar Pradesh are fed up with the experiments of entering into alliances. Rather lack of faith has compelled them from entering into any major alliance. But the political sagacity in the present circumstances suggests that no political party may get a majority on its own.

If we try to assess the position of the Samajwadi Party in comparison to the last election, it appears that its internal feud would cast aspersions on its fate. The party which witnessed a rise in its number of seats from 92 in 1991 to 110 in 1996 and then to 143 in 2002, has irked many in the organisation.

Once the closest ally of Mulayam Singh and one of the founder members of the Samajwadi Party, Beni Prasad Verma has seceded away to float the Samajwadi Kranti Party. How far it would affect the SP stake is too early to say, but Beni Prasad VermaÂ’s speeches favouring Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi has indicated future trouble for the SP.

Beni Prasad Verma may not have a statewide presence, but he has undisputed recognition among Kurmi voters in several districts covering about 20 to 30 assembly seats. His closeness to the Congress and the possible tactical understanding over seats would certainly give an edge to the Congress-led alliance.

Beni Prasad Verma and Indian Justice Party leader Udit Raj also met Sonia Gandhi and discussed the prospects of an alliance.

However, the SP has the ability to win friends and influence people. It lured away MLAs from BSP and the Congress in 2003, but after May 11 it would be difficult for the SP to cobble together a majority even if it emerges as the No. 1 party in the assembly. For it would again need a Speaker like Kesri Nath Tripathi, who in 2003 had given recognition to the defected BSP MLAs to help SP.

Realising the situation perhaps, Mayawati is not sparing any opportunity to make the BSP the largest party in the state assembly. In contrast to her earlier anti-upper caste image, she has given tickets to 86 Forward Caste candidates compared to 89 Dalits to consolidate her strength.

BSP decided to go it alone despite indications that it may enter into an alliance with the Congress. From a lowly 12 in 1991 to a respectable 67 in 1996 and then to a comfortable 97 in 2002, the BSP has come a long way. By her open courting of upper castes, Mayawati has given sleepless nights to the BJP and Congress.

In case she fails to reach the magical number to form the government on her own, her option to enter into an alliance is always open. An alliance between the BSP and BJP, which has cohabited more than once in the past, would be a possibilty as both do not want to give another term to SP in the office.

The BJP, which has assessed its situation very deeply, has reportedly come to the conclusion that it is comfortable only on 84 seats, while there are 86 seats where it has to really work hard. Besides, there are 113 seats on which it will have a neck to neck fight, while on the rest of the 120 seats it is far behind from its two rivals.

Since its tally of seats fell from a high of 221 in the 1991 assembly elections to 174 in 1996 and then to 88 in 2002, it has chalked out a strategy by dividing all the 403 seats into four categories. The BJP in 2002 fought only 319 seats, but in this election it has left only 53 seats for the JD(U) and the Apna Dal, while on the rest of the seats it has fielded its candidates.

How far Kalyan Singh would be able to provide a winning edge to the party is eagerly awaited after the partyÂ’s successful performance in the recently concluded assembly polls of Punjab and Uttaranchal.

Although the Congress is nowhere in the picture, its confidence is back with the entry of Rahul Gandhi on the forefront of the partyÂ’s campaign trail. Rahul Gandhi has risked his charismatic image, because he opposed the ongoing efforts to enter into an alliance with any party to assess the real strength of the organisation. Keeping future politics into consideration, he has traversed different parts of the state in roadshows to establish direct contact with the people.

Although the CongressÂ’ tally dropped from 46 in 1991 to 33 in 1996 and then to 15 in 2002, it managed to win 9 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 parliamentary election. Hopeful of a magical turnaround, it has tactically entered into an alliance with Chaudhary Mahendra Singh TikaitÂ’s Bharatiya Kisan Union. The party hopes to make a dent into RLD votes, besides wooing Muslim populace. Besides, the political bonhomie with the erstwhile SP leader Beni Verma and Indian Justice Party may also affect the partyÂ’s poll prospects in a few pockets.

The Congress failed to enter into a pre-poll alliance with former Prime Minister V P Singh-led Jan Morcha. It can go with it to stop the SP and BJP-led alliances in the post-election scenario. The Jan Morcha has entered into an alliance with CPI, LJP, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, Rashtravadi Communist Party and also the United Democratic Front led by Yaqoob Qureshi, but its impact is too far-fetched to imagine.

The Nationalist Congress Party is also contesting 40 seats in the state. It has reached a political understanding with the Indian Justice Party, Samajwadi Kranti Dal and Janata Dal (Secular). Besides, it will extend support to CPM, CPI and CPI(ML) candidates on those seats where its alliance has not fielded a candidate.

The CPM which had won only two seats in 2002, has decided to contest 14 seats, while on the rest of the 389 seats it has decided to extend support to secular parties to defeat the BJP.

However, Uma Bharati-led Bharatiya Janashakti Party is not entering into an electoral alliance with any party just to erode the BJP votes. Uma predicts that the BJP will not win more than 40-45 seats in the hustings, as her party's presence in Uttarakhand made the BJP lose 11 seats.

It is evident for any political party that the road ahead is not smooth. If pre-poll alliances donÂ’t work, post elections tie-ups may be the only way out.