Worried BJP puts on brave face as SP and BSP tie up
The shadow of the Samajwadi-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance hung over the BJP national convention on Saturday, with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya excoriating it as a “casteist and corrupt alliance”.
Adityanath was speaking at the convention while Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav were holding a joint news conference, and party managers were visibly angry at the news channels’ live coverage of the Lucknow event in preference to the one in Delhi.
Without directly referring to either regional party, Adityanath alleged that people who couldn’t stand each other were coming together driven by their fear of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He accused Mayawati and Akhilesh of joining hands for “corruption”.
“This is a coalition of a casteist, corrupt and opportunistic mindset that doesn’t want development or good governance. The public knows everything and will give this unholy alliance a fitting reply,” he later told reporters.
Maurya, who spoke after Yogi, said the alliance resembled an attempt at friendship between a “snake” and a “mongoose”, which can never succeed.
“Mayawati and Akhilesh are scared of Modiji; so they are joining hands. The backwards and Dalits, however, are with Modiji. Their alliance will not work,” he said.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed the alliance would have no impact because the general election concerned not just Uttar Pradesh but the country. “They have allied for their survival. They know they cannot fight Modiji on their own, and their opposition to him is the sole basis for their alliance,” Prasad said. “The India of 2019 is aspirational; it doesn’t want to return to the ’90s,” he added, referring to an era of patchwork coalitions.
He said the country wanted an “honest, courageous and decisive leader” like Modi.
“Today a comical alliance known as (the) mahagathbandhan of desperate, contradictory and opportunistic political formations is being sought to be raised to take on the Prime Minister, the BJP and the NDA,” the party’s political resolution said.
“They neither have any programme (or) agenda for India or for the people of India, nor any leader, but the only glue is the hatred against Narendra Modi.”
Many BJP delegates sought details of the alliance as it was unfolding in Lucknow, acknowledging it could pose a threat to their party. “The alliance will surely reduce our seats in Uttar Pradesh,” one of them said.
On the stage, BJP president Amit Shah was seen saying something to Modi while gesturing towards his phone as the Mayawati-Akhilesh news conference wore on, prompting suggestions that he was briefing the Prime Minister about the developments in Lucknow.
Speaking later, Shah said the alliance was no match for Modi and that BJP workers would ensure the party won 50 per cent of the votes.
He cited how the BJP had defeated a Samajwadi-Congress coalition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Many expect the alliance to wipe out the astonishing gains the BJP had made in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, winning 73 of its 80 Lok Sabha seats along with its allies. “The (probable) loss in Uttar Pradesh will be difficult to compensate,” a BJP insider said.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that none of the Opposition leaders could match Modi’s popularity and stressed that the general election would not be about “arithmetic” but about “chemistry”.