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Opposition Strategy for Uttar Pradesh

Congress’s posturing and assertion of distinctness indicate a muddled sense of political priorities.


The recent political developments in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have the potential to considerably strengthen the forces of opposition to the current ruling dispensation at the centre. The alliance between the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) promises to be a formidable electoral and social coalition that can cause major damage to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) electoral performance in UP. Furthermore, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s nomination as the Congress general secretary and in-charge of Eastern UP is also seen as a move to better her party’s electoral prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The importance of the UP for the BJP is such that whenever it has formed the government at the centre, about one-fourth to one-third of the seats have come from UP. Therefore, the prospect of major electoral reversals looming large in UP seems to portend its defeat in the forthcoming general elections.

It is a commonplace understanding that the bedrock of any effort to defeat the BJP in UP has to be a combined force of the BSP and SP, who are the strongest challengers with a consolidated social base. These two parties have overcome their long-standing animosity that also had roots in the contradictions between the social groups associated with them. However, these contradictions have become muted or secondary with the Hindutva upper-caste aggression/assertion represented by the Adityanath rule. The BSP–SP alliance, therefore, is not merely about their survival or political expediency, as the pressure from below—from their respective social bases—has made them join forces after 25 years. The arithmetic of this alliance would be further shored up by including other opposition parties in an auxiliary role, whereby it could become a pole for voters discontented with the current government. Although smaller parties like the Rashtriya Lok Dal or Nishad (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal) party are set to be accommodated in the alliance fold, the Congress is not part of it. This situation seems to have arisen due to the Congress’s unwillingness to accept such an auxiliary role which would entail contesting only a handful of seats. It seems apprehensive about what would appear to be a climbdown from its pre-eminent all-India party status. The entry of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is an attempt to underscore this status by rejuvenating the party in UP.

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Updated On : 2nd Feb, 2019


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