MahaGadbandan – After the infamous Guest House incident when Mayawati was attacked and parted ways, SP and BSP has firmed up their alliance after a gap of 24 years to take on the might of BJP, which swept the elections in 2014. On paper, the combined vote strength of SP and BSP put together is strong enough to wipe out BJP of its major gains but politics is not always a zero sum game. The MGB left out Congress, apparently on the insistence of BSP Chief Mayawati who is averse to the Congress, primarily owing to the lack of respect to BSP in Rajasthan and Madyapradesh. In both these states, Congress thought that it could take on BJP on its own and considered BSP a marginal player, not having enough strength to influence the results in any significant manner. It might be true that BSP might not be strong enough in MP and Rajasthan but it is also true that Congress is just a fringe player in most of UP.
Even with Congress out of the alliance, poll pundits predicted that MGB will bag most of the seats, giving a setback to the ambitions of Modi to retain power. However, there are other forces at work which are going to seriously damage the prospects of MGB. In the IPL 2019, in one of the final league matches, Royal Challengers Bangalore, which was at the bottom of the table, played their last match with SunRisers Hyderabad. A win for SRH would have kept their chances of playoff alive but RCB comfortably won the match, taking with it SRH. In UP, Congress cannot hope to win more than a couple of seats on its own and it cannot influence the results in many constituencies but still it can play spoil-sport and affect the chances of MGB.With the SP-BSP combine fighting against the BJP and no possibility of them ever supporting a BJP government at the centre, why should Congress try to scuttle their chances? There lies the game of the family.
As things stand today, Congress cannot hope to win anything in UP, WB, Telengana, AP, Odisha and not more than 15 in Rajasthan, Gujarat & MP combined. This leaves about 225 seats out of reach of the Congress party. If Congress has to get a respectable total to cobble up a majority with other parties, it has to cross at least 180 seats on its own, which is not possible out of the remaining 300 seats. Congress is very much aware that it cannot hope to capture power in this election but the game plan is to get a shot at government formation in 2024 and ensure the survival of the family.
Like Mayawati is averse to an alliance with Congress, the reverse is also true with leaders in Congress, especially Priyanka Vadra, not keen to have a tie-up with BSP. However, if the MGB wins hands down in 2019, the chances of Congress being accommodated in any future alliance is completely ruled out. MGB hopes to get at least 60 out of 80 in UP. If it happens, then Congress can forget UP forever. Therefore, it is in the interest of Congress to ensure the defeat of MGB in considerable seats.
Congress has fielded strong candidates wherever BSP is contesting and chose weak candidates wherever SP is contesting. This includes fielding a BSP rebel which infuriated Mayawati. The strategy of Congress is to support SP candidates and defeat BSP candidates even if it means victory for BJP because once Mayawati gets into the winning ways, there is no stopping her and Congress knows it better than anyone else. With the inclusion of Priyanka Vadra into the campaign in UP, Congress workers naturally feel rejuvenated, primarily because they don’t have any faith left in Rahul anymore.
The reason for the Congress supporting SP is there is no conflict of interest. While Rahul is the eternal PM in waiting, Akilesh Yadav apparently nurtures no such ambitions, at least for the present but Mayawati is open with her ambition to play a greater role at the centre as the PM. Anybody having 30+ will be a strong contender for the post of PM from the third front and as things stand today, Mayawati is the only leader who can hope to come anywhere near the mark.
With the resurgent BJP in WB, the only state where any party from the Third front can hope to get the maximum number of seats is UP only. Congress also hopes that Akilesh would be easy to handle than Mayawati. This is the erstwhile MGR formula adopted in Tamil Nadu way back in the 1980, where the ADMK would get to contest most of the seats for the Assembly and leaving most of the seats to Congress in Parliament elections. This arrangement will suit the Congress as it is not bothered about regional leaders of the party, as long as their continuance at the center is guaranteed. This has been the primary reason for the decline of Congress in State after State where regional leaders are never allowed to grow in stature, fearing a threat to the family.
While Priyanka Vadra declared that Congress will be cutting into the votes BJP, the fact remains that it is going to do much greater damage to not only BSP but also SP, by creating a three way split of the votes in UP. For the Congress, the interests of the Family always comes before interests of the party. If the MGB gets below 35 seats, Amit Shah should thank only Priyanka Vadra.