Two political rivals in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh will form an alliance in a bid to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in national election scheduled for May, leaders of the parties said.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), both of whom command large support bases among Uttar Pradesh state’s working class and are led by former chief ministers, will contest the election as a team, they said.
Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and accounts for about a sixth of all members of the parliament, the highest by a single state. Barring a couple of exceptions in the 1990s, the party winning the most number of seats there has helped form the federal government.
Out of the 80 seats in the state, SP and BSP will nominate candidates for 38 seats each, BSP chief Mayawati Das said at a joint press conference with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday.
They will not contest the other four seats, which include two that have historically been held by the country’s main opposition party, Congress.
Congress, which ruled India for nearly four decades since its independence from Britain in 1947, has also been working to build a “grand alliance” with other parties ahead of the polls.
Mayawati, however, said Congress would not be a part of the BSP-SP alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “We can surely stop the BJP from coming to power with this alliance with SP,” she said.
On Friday, Yadav said “We can give Congress two seats they have always held”, referring to the constituencies from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi have contested in the past.
Mamata Banerjee, head of Trinamool Congress party and chief minister of eastern India’s West Bengal state who has been pushing to create a mega alliance of regional parties to defeat the BJP, welcomed the announcement in a tweet.
“I welcome the alliance of the SP and the BSP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Banerjee said.