The “Grand Alliance” has nothing grand about it in Uttar Pradesh. What emerged as a winning proposition in Bihar is already looking like a failure in Uttar Pradesh, since the main political players in the state are not a part of it. The five parties that have come together—JDU, RJD, RLD, Peace Party and Apna Dal—have either no base of their own in UP or are slipping on whatever ground they held.
The JDU and RJD have their offices in Lucknow and also a state president of their own, whose main job is to accompany the bigger leaders on their occasional visits to UP. Both parties contested the 2012 Assembly elections, but could not manage even 1% of the vote. The RJD contested four seats and got 0.04%, while the JDU contested 219 seats and ended up with 0.36% of the votes cast. In the past four years, the two parties have neither opposed nor supported the ruling Samajwadi Party on any issue and this implies that their organisations have been more or less defunct. The two parties also do not have a state level leader who can boast of pan-UP acceptability.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has had periodic affairs with the BJP and the Congress, and is now desperately looking for a new political suitor, lost its base in western UP, known as Jatland, to the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections. RLD president Ajit Singh is keen to fit into any political dispensation that will take him to the corridors of power. But whether he can get back his Jat support remains to be seen.
The Peace Party, which had four legislators after the 2012 elections, is now left with one, since three have revolted against the leadership. Its president, Dr Ayub, who seemed to be the most promising star on the political horizon in 2012, has been saddled with allegations of selling tickets and has lost his sheen.
The Apna Dal, which contested and won two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has also fallen prey to power games. The Apna Dal president Krishna Patel and her MP daughter Anupriya Patel have been publicly squabbling, leading to an almost vertical split in the party. Kurmis, who were the mainstay of the Apna Dal, are undecided about which faction they wish to remain with and are looking for greener pastures.
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are unwilling to even touch the “Grand Alliance” with a barge pole. BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said, “Our president, Mayawati has repeatedly made it clear that the BSP will not enter into an alliance with anyone and there is going to be no rethinking on the issue. The BSP is quite capable of contesting the elections on its own and even forming the next government in UP.” A senior Samajwadi minister, meanwhile, wanted to know whether the members of the grand alliance would find sufficient candidates to contest all the 403 seats. “Their contesting or not contesting the election will not make any difference to the results because this is UP, not Bihar,” he said.