The curious case of UPA’s friendly rivals
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Politically, the Samajwadi Party and BSP may find it hard to explain the decision to continue supporting the UPA government after the DMK became the latest ally after the Trinamool Congress, AIMIM and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) to depart its sinking ship.
Being outside supporters, the two don't enjoy the spoils of power that could have been the most obvious attraction. Their claim of keeping communal forces out also holds little water as the BSP and SP now occupy so much space in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh that the BJP is effectively relegated to the fringes. On the contrary, their dalliance with the ruling Congress may end up marginally helping the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections in the state.
What the SP and BSP — past masters at identity politics — know is that their committed electorate is likely to stay with them. The SP also appears to have its eyes on the political gains that a pliable Centre can render for its government in Uttar Pradesh.
Then there are the disproportionate assets cases against the leaders of the two parties. While Mayawati is almost in the clear, Mulayam Singh Yadav has the threat of it still hanging over his head.
It is a measure of all this that keeps the SP and BSP together with the Congress, notwithstanding the rather incongruous sight of two bitter rivals holding up either end of a government that's collapsing down the middle. As he disrupted Parliament over the Beni Prasad Verma row on Wednesday, Mulayam, however, gave the first hint that he is itching to wrestle out of that situation.
Ravish is an assistant editor based in Delhi
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