Only an official statement is what remains of the much-talked about Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. For the SP, attempting to leave behind the criticisms over its family feud, an alliance is the best way to retain vote share while the Congress is looking at the larger 2019 general elections. As such both parties have much to take away from the alliance.
Why it works for the SP
Post the SP split, most political analysts believe that the key now lies in how the fissure affects the voters. The Congress' support would matter a great deal to the Akhilesh Yadav-led faction. Congress has been positioned at number four in Uttar Pradesh for well over two decades and recent polls have gauged its vote share at a measly 6-8 per cent. In a multi polar contest, that measly percentage may end up being the most crucial factor. Considering the expected vote share of 30-32 per cent of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the SP may end up with 25-28 per cent vote share. Congress is their only shot at surpassing the BJP.
With Congress' Sheila Dikshit already willing to step aside to make way for Akhilesh Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate, the SP has not much to lose, just about 100 seats in the bargain. The SP is aware of the Congress commanding close to 16 per cent of the Muslim vote bank while adding their own 39 per cent vote share from the 2012 assembly polls. While anti-incumbency may hinder SP's Muslim vote share, what the Congress is bringing to the alliance table may just suffice.
What Congress has to gain
The Congress is fighting hard to return to to its lost place as an important player in Uttar Pradesh politics. The Congress, the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party have time and again reiterated that the BJP needs to be stopped from coming to power in the electorally most important state in the country. The stand doesn't apply to the assembly elections alone. The Congress has its eyes set on the 2019 general elections. The alliance with SP is Congress' chance at returning to power in UP after 27 years. The move will also prompt party members for a resurgence.
Given the BJP's performance in 2014, the Congress understands that an insider, in this case, the SP, is needed for them to counter the BJP in the next general elections. Also the fact that UP has the largest representation of MPs in both houses of the parliament matters. Young leaders of the Congress and SP already share a bonhomie that may translate into a healthy alliance.