Election Throwback: SP, BSP Gathbandhan in 1993 Subdued BJP's 'Ram Mandir Wave' in UP
Image used for representational purpose | (Photo Credits: PTI)

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) - considered as the two poles of Uttar Pradesh's electoral politics - officially announced their gathbandhan on Saturday. The two parties, who have remained arch nemesis for nearly two decades, have decided to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections together in a bid to defeat the "communal, casteist BJP".

The SP-BSP tie-up, though considered unprecedented, is not a first-time phenomenon in UP politics. The two parties had joined hands in 1993, nearly 24 years ago, to thwart the BJP from usurping the state's political grounds in the backdrop of Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

The precursor to the erstwhile SP-BSP alliance was similar to the events leading up to the current tie-up. In the 1991 state elections, the BJP had succeeded to win 221 seats -- on the promise of building a grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

Since the BJP government was dismissed in 1992 for violating the Supreme Court order -- the then Kalyan Singh regime was charged by the Congress-ruled Centre of facilitating the kar sevaks to demolish the Babri mosque on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Forced into fresh elections, the BJP faced a formidable challenge as SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP chief Kanshiram joined hands to prevent the BJP from returning to power.

The SP-BSP alliance had then succeeded in winning the UP assembly polls in 1993. Though the BJP emerged as the single-largest party, the SP, BSP, Janata Dal and Congress came together to form the next government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Will history repeat itself in 2019?

Political pundits claim that the combined vote-share of BSP and SP in 2014 was almost equal to the share of votes claimed by the BJP at peak of the Narendra Modi wave. Below are the statistics:

Party Vote Share (2014)
BJP 42.3%
Samajwadi Party 22.2%
BSP 19.6%
Congress 7.5%

What further boosts the prospects of SP-BSP gathbandhan, claim experts, is the weakening of the euphoria surrounding PM Modi -- as witnessed in recent drubbings suffered by the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

In the past year, the BSP had extended backchannel support to the Samajwadi Party in three crucial Lok Sabha bypolls in UP -- Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana. The BJP lost all the three seats, with two of them being last represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya.