Even before the results were out, Samajwadi Party leaders in Lucknow were predicting a win in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur byelections. But given the BJP’s winning streak in the Northeast, few thought they would lose the polls in their own backyard. But Akhilesh Yadav took these elections seriously. He deputed his trusted men, including MLC Udaiveer Singh and youth leader Arvind Singh Gope, in Gorakhpur. More importantly, he patched up with Mayawati. The Bahujan Samaj Party and the SP had been working together on the floor of the House to take on the BJP, especially on its encounter politics. Interestingly, it was BSP leader Lalji Verma in the Vidhan Sabha who first suggested that the two get together in the coming Rajya Sabha elections, where the SP had surplus votes and the BSP was running short. The proposal was first discussed with the SP Leader of Opposition, Ram Govind Chaudhury, who then took it to Akhilesh. The SP chief then proposed a barter deal in the Lok Sabha bypolls, which was immediately accepted by the BSP. “BSP chief Mayawati did not even convey to us that she was going to support our candidates in Phuplur and Gorakhpur, but instead made the announcement to the press,” said an SP leader. And that is how the first seeds of a winning alliance were sown.


There are many contenders for the job of the convener of the anti-Narendra Modi front. Telangana CM KCR was the first off the bat when he announced an anti BJP/anti-Congress front, and reached out to Mamata Banerjee. But the shrewd West Bengal CM has aspirations of her own and immediately dialled DMK leader Stalin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, with whom she has cordial relations. She has also announced her ambition of unfurling the Tricolour from Delhi’s Red Fort. In addition, while KCR got only Asaduddin Owaisi’s support, Mamata has a cordial rapport with Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal and Sharad Pawar as well. The last name, however, has ambitions of his own. Pawar did his own round of dinner diplomacy in the national capital recently. He too is keen to head the anti-Modi front. Then there is the newly minted anti-Modi player, Chandrababu Naidu, who has just cut ties with the NDA. He has experience on his side, for he has been the convener of the United Front in the past.

In all this, where does the Congress fit in? Rahul Gandhi certainly has the support of Omar Abdullah and Tejashwi Yadav and maybe even Sitaram Yechury, but the other more seasoned regional chiefs are apprehensive of uniting under his leadership. As a TMC leader pointed out, “Can you even compare Mamata’s experience versus his inexperience?” Is that the reason why Mamata, Mayawati and Akhilesh did not make a personal appearance at Sonia Gandhi’s dinner, but instead sent their representatives?


BJP leaders in Lucknow had made fun of Akhilesh Yadav’s tie-up with the BSP recently, calling it an alliance between a Yogi and a Bhogi (one who receives largesse). Yet, in the end, when the results came and the BJP was defeated in the CM’s own stronghold, it was quite clear who was both the ultimate Political Yogi as well as the Bhogi, because, as Akhilesh pointed out, it was his candidate who got the voters’ largesse.

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