By Deepak Sharma
New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Though labelled ‘Babua’ by his political rivals, Akhilesh Yadav, the key architect of the gathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh, seems to have mastered the art of managing the unmanageable in UP. The way Samajwadi Party President, Akhilesh managed BSP’s Mayawati, perceived as an unforeseeable alliance partner, has silenced many of his harsh critics.
Known for her unpredictable stand in politics, Mayawati had earlier parted ways with Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav and even ditched more mature politicians such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Kalyan Singh. However in the last couple of months, SP insiders are of the view that due to Akhilesh Yadav’s deft handling of alliance, the SP-BSP combine would not only emerge winner but would also hold the key to forming the next government at the Centre in the event of a fractured mandate.
In all the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati joined Akhilesh Yadav on the dais 22 times and held together almost half-a-dozen grand road shows. To the surprise of many, Akhilesh even succeeded in persuading Mayawati to share platform with Mulayam Singh Yadav in a rally in Mainpuri, on the eve of the third phase of polls.
“Akhilesh ji is polite and courteous. His amiable behaviour and high regards for Mayawati lie at the core of the flourishing partnership between both these leaders,” said I.P. Singh, SP’s national spokesperson.
According to Singh, the SP and BSP cadres too maintained cordial relations, seen for the first time between the supporters of the two arch rivals in Uttar Pradesh.
Election results in the past reveal that SP has always been weak in the urban seats. Despite this Akhilesh agreed to concede key rural constituencies to the BSP and accepted seats like Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur or Ghaziabad where chances of SP’s winnability have been very low.
This adjustment was exercised by Akhilesh to seal the deal with Mayawati who seldom compromises on seat-sharing formulas.
Besides, the SP Chief gave the option to decide the venue of important joint rallies to Mayawati. Akhilesh also took the lead in facilitating arrangements for the road shows and many of the rallies.
Till the seventh and final phase of polls, Akhilesh presided over 50 rallies while Mayawati addressed around 25 meetings. In all, the gathbandhan held over 97 rallies in the state against 407 organised by the BJP.
In terms of publicity and advertisement SP-BSP front was dwarfed by BJP on all aspects. While the saffron surge could be seen on social media, television and print, the gathbandhan had a limited visibility across all media platforms.
“We are primarily a poor people’s party. We have limited funds and cannot afford to release ads in national newspapers or satellite channels. Let me make it clear, ‘behenji’ does not believes in publicity. She believes in her supporters,” Dr M.H. Khan, a known face of the Bahujan Samaj Party, told regional news channels in UP. According to Dr Khan, said to be close BSP supremo, the gathbandhan will emerge as the most successful alliance in the polls.
Meanwhile, after the end of canvassing in the state, Akhilesh Yadav held a series of meetings with Mayawati to discuss gathbandhan’s strategy, once the results are announced on May 23. The alliance seems anxious to cement an anti-BJP front to form a government at the centre, in case the country sees a fractured mandate.