The decision of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) to exclude the Congress from their alliance in Uttar Pradesh has had political pundits spin a what-if narrative. In the main, this narrative says the BSP-SP could be deprived of its punch if the Congress were to repeat its astonishing performance of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2019.
In 2009, the Congress won 21 seats, SP 23, BSP 20, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 10 and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) five. But India’s grand old party is unlikely to repeat this performance as Uttar Pradesh’s extant social reality is very different today from what it was in 2009, which the what-if narrative does not take into account.
In 2009, the political parties destabilised the social plates of Uttar Pradesh through certain decisions they took before the nation voted. Among them was the admission of BJP leader Kalyan Singh into the SP.
At the same time, the state’s then foremost Kurmi leader, Beni Prasad Verma, left the SP to join the Congress. The third was in 2007 when BSP leader Mayawati took to social engineering, pulled in a significant number of upper caste, particularly Brahmin, votes and went on to win the Uttar Pradesh elections that year.
It was assumed that Mayawati’s social engineering would yield her rich dividends in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as well. The Left, after withdrawing support from the Manmohan Singh government, had floated a Third Front.
It was thought Mayawati would take half of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats to become the Front’s prime ministerial nominee.
In anticipation of the announcement, Mayawati hosted a dinner for Third Front leaders in March 2009. Yet, contrary to expectations, the Front leaders desisted from going public with her nomination,