Why people rejected opportunistic alliances in 2019 polls

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In the Bharatiya Janata Party’s massive victory and the Opposition’s big loss lies a key message: the people of India have outrightly rejected opportunistic alliances, sealed just before elections to grab power.

The voter is smart and has taught a lesson to these power-hungry brokers. The ‘maham-milawat’ barb of Prime Minister Modi worked well and found acceptance among the voters.

Three key alliances were sealed in the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, which send 134 MPs (25% of the Lower House’s strength) to Parliament.

In UP, friends turned foe turned friends again after 25 years when the SP and the BSP came together to stop the BJP juggernaut. In Bihar, ex-NDA partners Kushwaha, Manjhi, Saini and Sharad Yadav were inducted into the RJD-led alliance. In Jharkhand, ex-BJP chief minister Babulal Marandi, who opposed JMM’s politics all his life, joined the Soren-led alliance. All the three ‘maha-gathbandhans’ were rejected by the people.

They were mere paper tigers. These alliances were built on caste arithmetic on the principle of two plus two equals four.

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If these partners had contested together in 2014 and assuming there was a seamless transfer of votes, the ‘maha-gathbandhan’ would have won 41 in UP, 6 in Bihar and 5 in Jharkhand. They were expecting to snatch 36 seats from the NDA in 2019.

However, alliances are not all about arithmetic, but also chemistry, as we keep hearing on TV channels. The three ‘maha-gathbandhans’ put together won only 18 seats, aq gain of 10 in UP, a loss of 9 in Bihar and status quo in Jharkhand.

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Note: 2014 Results reflect the potential of the alliance based on 2014 Lok Sabha numbers.

The most bizarre of alliance was formed in UP. The SP and the BSP, which were at loggerheads with each other and fought fiercely against each other for 25 years, came together to join hands. BJP boss Mayawati was attacked by SP goons in Lucknow in 1995. She forgave SP and agreed for a pre-poll arrangement. Her party had not won even a single seat in 2014 Lok Sabha, in 2017 Assembly elections, too, the BSP’s score was less than 20. The SP had won just 5 MPs in 2014 and received a drubbing in 2017 state elections.

Both were staring at extinction in Modi tsunami. In Hindi, there is an adage: ‘marta kya na karta’. The two, thus, came together.

However, the results show this was not accepted by all their supporters. The combined vote share of the ‘maha-gathbandhan’ of 43% in 2014 fell to 39% in 2019. It also infuriated other caste groups which consolidated to teach a lesson to this unholy alliance.

The BSP has won 10, while the SP has won 5 seats. Murmurs are already doing the rounds that the BSP did not transfer its votes fully. The alliance is likely to end on a bitter note because it was merely a marriage of convenience.

In Bihar, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP and Manjhi’s HAM ditched the NDA after the seat distribution talks failed. Both were demanding more seats than is their potential. BJP president Amit Shah did not budge. The two knocked at the doors of the UPA which accommodated them to expand their social coalition. But people of the Kushwaha and Mahadalit communities clearly understood their intentions.

Saini, who backed NDA in 2015 state elections, also jumped the ship as he did not get a ticket from the NDA. The three bargained for 11 seats. In the end people showed them the door on all these 11 seats. Sharad Yadav, who once defeated Lalu Yadav from Madhepura, was seen contesting on a ticket from Lalu’s party (RJD). People handed him a big defeat by 300,000 votes. Shatrughan ‘Shotgun’ Sinha, who left BJP to join Congress, also received a big jolt.

In Jharkhand, in a similar manner, people rejected the last-minute alliance stitched to defeat Modi. Ex-BJP leader Babulal Marandi was defeated. Kirti Azad, who defected from the BJP to join the Congress was defeated, too.

To sum up, people rejected opportunistic/unholy alliances sealed just to defeat PM Modi and grab power. They neither released any common manifesto and had nothing to offer except reliance on caste considerations.

India is changing and will no longer be lured by such leaders and fall into their trap for their personal gains.

Amitabh Tiwari is a political consultant, strategist and commentator advising political parties and leaders. He is a former corporate and investment banker and tweets @politicalbaaba