The Bahujan Samaj Party’s decision to contest the 2024 Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha polls alone has dealt a blow to hopes of a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance of opposition parties in the state. While the move complicates matters for the Samajwadi Party and Congress, it also has significant implications for the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Experts believe that an SP-BSP-RLD alliance would have bolstered RLD’s position in Western UP. BSP’s sizeable Dalit and Muslim vote share, if transferred to allies, would have aided RLD in seats with strong Jat and Muslim electorates. However, BSP’s solo flight also opens up opportunities for RLD to stake claim over more seats.
BSP enjoys the support of over 20% Dalit voters and influences a section of Muslim voters. An alliance would have made it difficult for RLD to demand seats where these communities dominate. With BSP out, RLD can better capitalize on its core Jat voter base.
However, RLD may find it challenging to win seats without the supplementary vote transfer an alliance would have facilitated. While going solo gives RLD more breathing room in seat allocation, the lack of a joint opposition frontweakens its prospects overall.
RLD now faces the uphill task of devising an alternative strategy to counter the BJP’s might without the backing of allied parties. The party banks heavily on Jat voters, but this alone may prove insufficient without the diversity an SP-BSP partnership would have infused. RLD stands at a critical juncture ahead of the 2024 battle.