Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati is at the wane of her political powers. Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi started sweeping state and general elections alike, regional parties such as BSP that relied overwhelmingly on caste-based equations for the votes have seen their political presence dip to alarming levels. However, Mayawati, a tough nut, is known to survive against extreme odds and she has now latched onto the Hindutva cause to reinvent her party’s fortunes.
Reportedly, BSP has kickstarted a ‘Brahmin Sammelan’ from Ayodhya today that will last till July 29. The BSP chief whilst announcing the 7-day programme last week had appeared hopeful that Brahmins in UP will vote for her party instead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state elections scheduled to be held in 2022.
Mayawati’s Brahmin outreach program is being led by party general secretary Satish Chandra Misra who is expected to pay obeisance at the makeshift shrine of Ram Lalla in the temple city before staring the “Sammelan’.
While at first glance it appears that the soft reboot towards Hindutva by BSP is to edge out the BJP vote bank, however, the reality cannot be far from it. Congress and Samajwadi Party have tried this formula of visiting Temples, wearing Janau’s and yet they haven’t been able to breach the BJP defence in Uttar Pradesh. BSP understands this but it also recognizes that its survival is far greater than amassing few extra seats in the assembly.
BSP is eying a post-poll alliance with BJP so as to not perish into oblivion. The tell-tale signs of Mayawati’s flirtations with BJP have been there to see, signalling that the BSP supremo is playing the long game.
She supported the abrogation of Article 370 citing Dr BR Ambedkar. She claimed that Ambedkar was against article 370 and supported the unity and integrity of India. Moreover, Mayawati didn’t even question the house arrest of Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah.
1. जैसाकि विदित है कि बाबा साहेब डा. भीमराव अम्बेडकर हमेशा ही देश की समानता, एकता व अखण्डता के पक्षधर रहे हैं इसलिए वे जम्मू-कश्मीर राज्य में अलग से धारा 370 का प्रावधान करने के कतई भी पक्ष में नहीं थे। इसी खास वजह से बीएसपी ने संसद में इस धारा को हटाये जाने का समर्थन किया।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 26, 2019
BSP abstained from voting on the Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament, further fuelling the theory that she had switched her allegiances and was tacitly supporting BJP.
The ongoing farmer’s protest has also seen a subdued reaction from Mayawati who has rarely tried to take any sides throughout the 7-month long agitation by the fake farmers.
The disintegration of the Dalit vote bank
Once touted as the next big national party that could have solely been the face for Dalits, the party has now lost touch with its core voter base. Dalits comprise about 20 per cent of the population in UP and are a crucial voting bloc in elections. Seventeen of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP are reserved for Scheduled Castes.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Mayawati-led BSP could win only two seats (Nagina and Lalganj), while the BJP swept 15, including the Hathras seat. Meanwhile, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won with an even bigger margin, sweeping all the 17 reserved constituencies. Safe to say, the statistics point that BSP fell out with the Dalit voters of UP a long time back.
It hasn’t helped Mayawati’s cause that she has now expelled 11 party legislators in the last 18 months with Lalji Verma and Akbarpur MLA Ram Achal Rajbhar being the latest casualty. Senior OBC leaders had considerable sway over the community but by showing them the doors, it appears that ahead of the assembly polls, BSP is disintegrating.
Thus Mayawati’s strategy is simple, garner respectable seats in the assembly elections using the Hindutva card and later knock at the BJP’s door and take a side entry into the party. While it will be interesting to examine how BJP reacts to such a proposition but at the moment, both are opponents, even if for the optics.