One of the biggest political consequences of the rise of the Modi era has been the absolute domination by BJP in the politically crucial state. What started with its brilliant performance in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, went further during the 2017 Assembly polls and the Lok Sabha polls last year, when BJP’s vote share in the state peaked to 49.6 per cent.
A necessary corollary of BJP’s rise in the state has been the decimation of its main opponents in the state- SP and BSP. In fact, Samajwadi Party, which had won the UP Assembly polls in the year 2012, is today reduced to 5 seats in the Lok Sabha and merely 49 MLAs in the 403 member strong Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly.
Having realised that it is virtually staring into political extinction, the SP has already gone into poll campaign mode. According to a Zee News report, Akhilesh Yadav led party seems to be preparing a gameplan for the 2022 Assembly polls.
What is bound to be leave any political analyst intrigued is the Akhilesh Yadav led party’s strategy to cash in on Dalit votes. The Samajwadi Party wants to make inroads into BSP’s Dalit voter base.
According to the Zee News report, the SP is even trying to defect leaders from the Mayawati led party in order to carve out a Dalit voter base for itself.
The move comes within a year of SP-BSP coalition’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls. The SP had won merely five out of the thirty seven seats in Uttar Pradesh it had contested from, and the inability of the coalition partners to transfer votes to each other was blamed for its dismal performance.
A closer analysis of the caste dynamics in Uttar Pradesh would reveal the millennia-old clashes and conflict between the land-owning Yadav community and the landless Dalits. It was this caste dynamic which also rendered the SP and BSP voter bases irreconcilable.
While the BSP too claims that the SP was not able to transfer its Yadav votes to the former, we are more closely concerned with the failure of the SP to garner Dalit votes despite a pre-poll alliance with the Mayawati led party.
Apart from the centuries old clashes, it is the Akhilesh Yadav led SP’s pro-Yadav and even anti-Dalit image that by itself alienates the Dalit votes.
Take the 2014 Badaun gang rape case for instance has brought to light the issue of caste violence against Dalits, especially the women Dalits to light, after the SP came into power.
In fact, after the SP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2012, there were several incidents of anti-Dalit violence, which only bolstered the party’s anti-Dalit image.
Within days of its coming into power, SP had found itself dealing with a chain of such caste violence. On March 7, Dalits in Sitapur had alleged that their houses were burnt down by SP supporters because they had voted for an Independent candidate.
On March 8, 2012- the day of Holi, a BSP village Pradhan, Munna Lal, who happened to be a Dalit was brutally murdered in Mansukhpura Agra, by six assailants who had barged into, and ransacked his house, and then stabbed him several times with a spear till he died.
Today, the SP stands marginalised and after years of pushing the Muslim plus Yadav (M+Y) electoral formula, it today wants to garner a healthy share of Dalit votes.
However, the move seems imprudent, rather suicidal. Given its anti-Dalit image, SP’s attempts to emerge as the Dalit Messiah are bound to bite the dust.
What also makes the move suicidal for the SP is that it might stand to lose out on the Yadav voter base. The Akhilesh Yadav led party’s ability to mobilise the Yadav vote share is already under doubt after the bitter family feud. Now, the party seems to be trying to move towards the Dalit voter base that could alienate the party’s Yadav voters.
Therefore, SP’s attempts to garner Dalit votes might very well mark the official end of the party’s political existence.