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Why Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav kept the Congress out of their alliance in Uttar Pradesh

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Ideological compatility is considered vital for a national party and a regional one to be able to forge an electoral alliance. But this proposition is being turned on its head. Ideological similarity now seems to matter far less for regional parties than the desire to pressure the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress and check the expansion of the two main national parties.

This is the theme of the alliance between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh that was formalised on January 12. The two parties and the Congress have been insisting that their primary goal is to vanquish the BJP, and prevent it from corroding democracy and secularism any further.

Yet, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party have excluded the Congress from the partnership. Moreover, the alliance’s leaders, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, have been critical of both the BJP and the Congress.

Similarly, in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has taken to relentlessly sniping at its ally, the BJP. No two parties in India are as alike in their anti-minority, pro-Hindu outlook as the Sena and the BJP. Yet, the Sena says it wants to contest the 2019 election alone. It is, of course, hard to determine if this is just a strategy to wrest more seats from the BJP.

There are two opposite factors driving regional outfits to bolster their strength against the national parties.

The Congress’s success in the latest round of state elections has compelled the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to ensure that the grand old party does not piggyback on them to stage a revival in Uttar Pradesh. A Congress revival would not hurt just the BJP but damage these two regional parties too.

The Congress’s victory in these recent elections has reduced the........

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