30 July, 2021

Frenemies In Need

The BSP-SP entente in the UP ­bypolls seems an ad-hoc attempt compared to the BJP’s work on building on-ground social alliances

Photograph by Naeem Ansari
Frenemies In Need

Fresh from conquering the bonsai red fortress of Tripura and bringing down Lenin’s statue, nothing, it seems, can dampen the spirits of a euphoric BJP. Not even the shocker from BSP chief Mayaw­ati, who decided to support the Samaj­wadi Party (SP), a bitter rival for over two decades, in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in UP. The implications go beyond those two seats, of course. The move seems to be a sort of testing the waters, for a new mahagathba­ndhan, which, if it happens, may  upset the saffron party’s 2019 calculations for 2019.

Does the BJP view the prospect of a combined SP-BSP as a threat? Not in its current mood, and not for the half-formed shape the threat is in now. “It’s not even a long-term relationship. At best, it’s an opportunistic flirtation that will fizzle out soon,” says a senior BJP leader. “In a political alliance, there are two things at work: electoral arithmetic and chemistry. In the case of SP-BSP, neither works.” On chemistry, he has a point—relations between...

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