The Opposition's grand strategy of forging a grand alliance, grandiloquently named the 'Mahagathbandhan', has begun fraying at the seams even before the patchwork quilt of divergent, often clashing ideologies has been stitched together.
This is not the first time that BSP chieftain Mayawati has signalled her unease about aligning with the Congress in key north Indian States in the run-up to the big battle of 2019. She has gone with Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh, sourning the Congress's hand. It now seems unlikely she will align with the Congress in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. There is loud chatter in Uttar Pradesh that Behenji will be rowing her own boat.
READ | After Mayawati Decides To Go Solo For MP Elections, 8 Parties Plan To Form An Alliance As Cracks Appear In 'Mahagathbandhan'
There are three factors that are often overlooked when the politically naive excitedly talk of a grand alliance. Electoral alliances are not quite gatherings at swearing-in ceremonies as was witnessed when HD Kumaraswamy took oath as Chief Minister at the head of an alliance that itself is now tottering and keeling.
- First, Mayawati knows that while she can transfer her caste vote to an ally, say the Congress, the latter will not be able to do so for a variety of reasons. For instance, the CPM transferred its vote to the Congress but the latter could not do so in West Bengal. That makes an alliance with the Congress untenable.
- Second, Mayawati believes she can win a sufficient number of seats to drive a hard bargain with Third Frontists and reach the Prime Minister's Office. So does Mamata Banerjee. So does Chandrababu Naidu. So does Rahul Gandhi. Why should she sacrifice her claim at the altar of bogus Opposition unity when the warm-up for the race is yet to begin?
- Third, while Rahul Gandhi is welcome to believe the Congress is racing to the victory stand, ground realities are entirely different. The Congress remains a nonstarter as far as 2019 is concerned. At least as of now. So why would she want to go with the Congress?
We are in for some interesting times.