The countdown has begun for the results of the 2017 Assembly elections. All eyes are on Uttar Pradesh as the Assembly election results will set the tone for the 2019 General Elections.
From stock markets to fish markets, and everything in between, the election results appear to be the only thing on people’s minds. Meanwhile, all the parties in the fray have expressed confidence of a bumper victory. But politics is all about prospects. So what happens in the case of a hung assembly? Will new equations be forged? Will old ties be severed? What 'jugaad' will the parties engage in, in order to reach that magical number?
Let's examine the possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: BJP
The BJP is contesting the polls in alliance with the Apna Dal and the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party.
Even if the party manages to win, after overcoming potential speed-breakers in its path – like demonetisation and the tussle over ticket distribution – the road ahead does not appear to be too smooth. While a tie up with the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance is a no-go, Mayawati has been rather firm on her promise to refrain from joining hands with the BJP.
Small Parties and Independent Candidates
The BJP and its alliance partners need to win at least 165 seats in order to form the government. After that mark, the party will look to smaller contenders like Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Nishad Party (if it wins any seat) and Independent candidates in order to inch closer to the magic number of 203.
After this, the BJP will have to try and poach leaders from other parties. While this will be no easy task under the anti-defection law, it will come as no surprise should the BJP manage to make a dent in the BSP. In order to do so, the BJP will have to lure the party’s non-Muslim candidates by promising money or clout. But the factor to watch out for, in such a scenario, will be the number of winners among the 97 Muslim candidates that the BSP has fielded.
Scenario 2: BSP
If the Mayawati-led BSP emerges as the largest party, then it is bound to gain support from the RLD and Independent candidates. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, too, will be keen to join hands with the BSP, should the party strike gold in any of the 38 constituencies it is contesting from.
Will the Congress back the BSP?
The Congress and Samajwadi Party alliance, and the bonhomie between Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav, has dominated the chatter surrounding the UP polls. But do you remember the first Rahul-Akhilesh joint press conference? During the meeting, the Congress vice-president had words of appreciation to spare for Mayawati. What’s more, this campaign season did not see any war of words between Rahul and Mayawati. This is a clear indication that both parties have kept the doors open for a possible post-election alliance.
Will the BJP and BSP form an alliance for the third time?
Chances of a tie up between the two parties are bleak. The BJP does not want to be the junior alliance partner, and neither does the BSP. The two parties joined hands in 1997 and 2002, but on both occasions, their alliance did more harm than good.
Scenario 3: SP-Congress
If the SP-Congress alliance manages to bag the maximum number of seats, then it opens the doors for a number of interesting new political equations. While the RLD failed to get a piece of the SP-Congress pie before the elections, it won’t be too difficult for the party to make its way into the alliance after the results are out.
Additionally, the Nishad party, the Peace Party (should they win seats) and Independent candidates will flock to the SP-Congress if they manage to record impressive figures.
Everything Is Fair in Love and War
The SP and the BSP have been at war for 22 years now. However, anything is possible in the world of politics. Experts say it would be premature to rule out the possibility of a SP-Congress-BSP front. While Mayawati won't be too keen on being labelled the junior partner, speculation is rife that the 'maha gathbandhan' that failed to materialise before the polls may, in fact, bloom after the results.
Congress the Kingmaker?
The Congress, which is contesting 105 seats in the state, may have an ace up its sleeve yet. A win in 30 or more seats will put the Congress at an advantage, as it can then demand key posts – like that of Deputy Chief Minister and other important ministerial level positions – in the new government. The Congress’ equation with BSP will only serve to enhance its negotiation powers.
(The article was originally published on HindiQuint)