New Delhi: Petty opportunism based on attempts at caste mobilisation is still the name of the game in Indian politics. The biggest and the latest example of this brand of politics of convenience, where parties have made strange bedfellows, hiding their knuckles under the gloves of niceties, is the truncated and yet a ‘maha’ gathbandhan between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.

After the notorious and demeaning ‘Guest House’ incident in which Mayawati just about came out alive to challenge the SP in the times to come notwithstanding, the BSP chief has decided to join hands with, not Mulayam Singh Yadav, but with the prodigal son Akhilesh Yadav, who was rejected out of power owing to the nose-diving law and order in Uttar Pradesh.

Both Mayawati and Akhilesh have been staring at political oblivion. Akhilesh is facing problems with his own party and dissensions therein in the recent past. Once a pillar of the SP organisation, Shivpal Yadav has broken away to form his own party. He needs to prove himself at this very critical juncture, as the family feud and his victory in it also coincided with a staggering loss to the BJP in the Assembly elections.

Mayawati, on the other hand, but in a similarly jittery position, is on the verge of losing her politics altogether. Under duress of being out of power for very long, exceptionally bad performance in the last Lok Sabha elections, a total obliteration in the last UP Assembly elections, and the BJP’s pro-Dalit push threatens to dismantle her till-now-consolidated Dalit vote bank.

However unwilling, the two have decided to come together to attempt to collectively salvage individual political fortunes, which otherwise are under serious threat from the Modi juggernaut.

Meanwhile, the two have very conveniently chucked the Congress, and by extension Rahul Gandhi, out of this alliance. If one recalls that Gandhi was the one to have mooted the idea of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ just before the Bihar elections of 2015, this facet of opportunism stands out. The two have come to the conclusion that given their vote banks and the math of their combination, the Congress and Rahul could only prove to be dead weight.

Also read: Mayawati announces alliance with Akhilesh Yadav ahead of elections, slams door on Congress

If the alliance, and the keeping out of the Congress from it in the state which is said to decide the drift of national politics, is to go by, the Congress is in deep trouble which can be summed up as the problem of relevance.

But, this alliance has also kept a very opportunistic window open in case the Congress could emerge as the principle opposition nationally in 2019. They have given the Congress a walkover on the dynastic seats of Rae Bareilly and Amethi, those currently hogged by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, respectively.

And what is still not clear is why has this mulcted alliance been designated as a maha or mega alliance? Perhaps because elections, just as in the stock markets, are dictated not by fundamentals but by sentiment and appearances.