The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party will ally for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, and without the Congress, the two parties' leaders announced on Saturday in a landmark joint press briefing.
Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, two former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers and once fierce rivals, will each contest 38 seats in India's most electorally significant and populous state. They will leave two seats for other parties and also not contest in Amethi and Rae Bareli - the seats currently held by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively.
Speaking first, Mayawati said that the two parties were going to come together to give PM Narendra Modi, his 'shishya' (disciple) Amit Shah and the BJP sleepless nights. Alleging that the BJP had come up trumps in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as in the 2017 UP elections by crooked means.
However, while the attack on the BJP was on expected lines, Mayawati also tore into the Congress, alleging that the Rahul Gandhi-led party coming to power and the BJP coming to power were tantamount to the same thing. She attacked the Congress for corruption and claimed parallels with the BJP. Mayawati highlighted the Emergency imposed by the Congress in the 70s and compared it with the BJP, alleging 'undeclared emergency' now. She said that the Congress had earlier lost power because of the Bofors scam and now the BJP would also lose power because of the Rafale scam.
Most significantly, Mayawati said that there was no use allying with the Congress because the vote-transfer dynamics aren't effective and end up benefiting the BJP. Cementing the attack, she said that they would not weaken themselves to indulge the Congress in any alliance.
After Mayawati made all the key announcements, Akhilesh spoke as well, alleging that since the BJP came to power, it had turned Uttar Pradesh into 'Caste Pradesh'. He claimed that encounters were being carried out and that people were being asked to state their caste even in situations such as receiving treatment in hospitals.
The SP and BSP had been almost wiped out in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with the BJP winning 71 out of 80 seats with 42.6% vote-share. The Samajwadi Party won 5 seats with a 22.2% vote-share, the Congress won 2 seats with 7.5% vote-share and the BSP won no seats at all despite a 19.8% vote-share.