Lucknow is bubbling today, not only because of Narendra Modi's massive victory, but also due to some serious, life-saving parleys that are on right now and will continue in the coming days within the badly-wounded Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
The heads of the two parties — outgoing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati — are expected to meet soon to work out a roadmap to join forces.
The realisation that only a coming together of anti-BJP forces can now stop the Modi wave and ensure their survival was clear to both losing parties hours after counting of votes began today.
An intelligent plan now urgently needs to be in place to create a solid alliance in the state, also including the Congress and the RLD. Bruised by this rout at the hands of the BJP, the regional parties in Uttar Pradesh have understood that their very existence is now at stake, and that they are left with absolutely no other option but to come together for their survival.
Congress, SP, BSP and RLD together have got around 60% of the vote share in this Assembly election and had the royal alliance been in place, the BJP would surely have had to face defeat instead of this bumper majority, just as happened in Bihar.
Though Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi thought they would have an impact by merging their vote shares, it is now clear that not a mini, but only a royal alliance can stop the Narendra Modi typhoon.
Key interlocutors are being identified within the Samajwadi Party who will gradually start working to bring everyone else together, well in time before the general elections in 2019.
The realisation within the Samajwadi Party is that a united front in UP must be in place as early as possible so that a sustained campaign gets underway against the BJP government here, and the coalition becomes credible and strong enough over the next two years.
The strategy will be in place in a few days, once all the details about voting patterns in the 403 constituencies of the state come out in the open.
The formula for the grand alliance, based on the performance of the parties against the BJP will be finalised soon. It is expected that the party that's running second to the BJP in each of the 320 constituencies will get that particular seat, and all the others will transfer their votes to the alliance partner.
The idea would be to make it a one-on-one battle in 2019 so that the votes don't get split benefitting the BJP.
But the whole affair has many thorns that would need to be removed before the track gets laid.
Mayawati needs to be cajoled to bury her chief ministerial aspirations from here on. Akhilesh would like to honour her out to New Delhi as an MP, a thing that she would perhaps not mind now since she is facing the worst survival crisis of her political life.
Akhilesh has also realised today that Rahul Gandhi needs to be cast adrift and some other regional young face of the Congress party will have to replace him.
The task is huge, but for the outgoing CM this seems to be the only option left to reinvent himself.
Unlike his father, who is past his prime, Akhilesh has to stay relevant for at least another two decades or so. It is going to be much tougher now when Narendra Modi will start unleashing his developmental bits for Uttar Pradesh, but Akhilesh will to ready to abandon his air-conditioned chariot for campaigning and hit the road again on a bicycle, just like he did to his massive advantage in 2012.