The BSP-SP-RLD Mahagathbandhan in UP is in choppy waters barely a fortnight after the Lok Sabha election results have been declared, with the BSP supremo Mayawati deciding the party would contest 11 Assembly byelections on its own later this year — a decision of import because it does not usually contest bypolls. The BSP is of the view that it would have to strengthen its organisational structure to win votes as the SP and the RLD failed to transfer their vote share to it in the Lok Sabha elections, raising concerns about its own future. Of the 15 seats won by the Mahagathbandhan, the BSP won 10, SP five while RLD lost all three seats it contested. The SP did not have complete sway over the Yadav votes which split because of the feud between Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal while Ajit Singh failed to transfer Jat votes even as BSP votes went to them. Mayawati is disappointed that Akhilesh failed to ensure the victory of even his kin, with his wife and cousins losing from Kannauj, Badaun and Firozabad.
The Mahagathbandhan was significant as the BSP had tied up with the SP after 25 years. The parties had joined hands after their successful experiment in Phulpur and Gorakhpur byolls in 2018, believing that caste calculations would see them through. Though Mayawati has clarified that the alliance has not broken off yet, it does suggest a lack of trust between the coalition partners.
With the BJP juggernaut rolling and the lacklustre performance of the Congress evident in its party president Rahul Gandhi failing to retain the family pocket borough of Amethi, the BSP seems worried over its own political survival. Mayawati has aligned with other parties earlier too. In 1993, she formed a coalition with the SP but withdrew support and then aligned with the BJP only to come back to power on her own in 2007. She may be testing waters but with her rivals predicting the end of the Mahagathbandhan after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BSP supremo may not be quite unwilling to chart a lone course in the UP Assembly polls.