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Ajay Uprety
Ajay Uprety


The UPside of Bihar

Best-laid plans Best-laid plans: Bihar has given Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (left) and his father, Mulayam, a lesson: play up the development agenda | PTI

The Bihar election results will have an impact on the four major parties in Uttar Pradesh. As the ruling party, the Samajwadi Party expects a direct fight between itself and the BJP in the assembly polls, due in 2017. Senior Samajwadis told THE WEEK that they regretted the party’s decision to withdraw from the Grand Alliance in Bihar. The SP, which contested 146 seats, drew a blank.

Shivpal Yadav, minister and younger brother of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, said he favoured an alliance to stop the BJP. “The party will come out with a strategy and Mulayam Singh will decide the future course of action,” he said.

There is confidence that the SP can return to power if it plays up the development agenda. The party, however, will have to deal with the perception that its withdrawal from the Grand Alliance in Bihar helped the BJP indirectly.

For the BJP, the Bihar results have given a clear message that it would have to project leaders from UP instead of banking solely on Modi’s image. The party is already under pressure to project its chief ministerial candidate. “We committed some mistakes [in Bihar],” said state party president Laxmikant Bajpai. “We will analyse them and do necessary rectifications.”

He said the Bihar results would not have much impact in UP, as the political situation was different there. Said BJP legislator Dharampal Singh: “Assembly polls are fought on different issues. In UP, the party will rake up the poor law-and-order and absence of development in the state under the SP rule.”

The Bihar results have invigorated the Congress. If the party can improve its tally from four seats to 27 in Bihar, said Congress leaders, then surely it can do better in UP, where it has 28 seats now. Said party leader Mohsina Kidwai: “The party should try [forming] a grand alliance for the UP polls, too.”

For Mayawati and her BSP, the Bihar results are disquieting. The party had contested all 243 seats in Bihar, but could not win even one. Unlike in Bihar, which saw the Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal burying their hatchet to take on the BJP, there is little chance of an SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “The BJP lost in Bihar because of its own mistakes,” said BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya. “Political circumstances in UP are totally different. The BSP is a strong alternative, and at present, it does not need any alliance.”

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