By : Shashank Suresh
Mayawati, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, is seen by political analysts as politically isolated and absent from the farmers’ and Hindutva narratives. In recent months, the Dalit leader is scarcely heard making any forceful contributions in political discourse, her political activity being limited to odd tweets.
Mayawati has formed a “historic alliance” with the Akali Dal in Punjab ahead of the assembly elections next year. However, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) needs an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2022 elections to save its political existence and oppose the BJP.
The BSP and the Samajwadi Party formed an electoral alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With ten seats won, the BSP had its highest result since 2009. Although many saw the coalition as a failure, the alliance won 15 of the 80 seats in UP with a 40% vote share, making it the highest showing by the opposition in any state in the heartland (excluding Punjab) against the BJP at the time.
The same should have been regarded as a stepping stone by both partners towards the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, which were the ones that mattered. The 2019 elections were essentially about choosing or not electing Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister.
Many senior BSP figures have already defected to the rival Samajwadi Party (SP), and political watchers in Uttar Pradesh predict that further defections are likely as the assembly elections approach. As of now, the BSP has been conspicuously absent on the ground as farmers’ protests roil western Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, all parties, including the SP, Congress, and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), have been engaging with farmers to reclaim lost ground following the agitations against the three controversial government agricultural legislation.
Mayawati has previously depended on the Dalit-Muslim or Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin coalition to help her party gain traction. The BSP received over 26% of the vote in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, down from just over 30% in 2007 when the party won a majority in the legislature. However, in 2017, this proportion fell even lower, at 22%. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BSP received 19.3% of the vote, primarily from Dalits.
Mayawati, the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), denied rumours that her party will contest the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2022 in a partnership with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, saying that her party will go alone. Shaukat Ali, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader, declared on June 22 that his party would run candidates in 100 Muslim majority seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Rebel BSP MLAs have accused Mayawati of diverging from Kashi Ram’s philosophy. Mayawati’s critics also allege that she does not listen to proposals or viewpoints from within the party. Meanwhile, Mayawati is attempting to increase cadre morale by having meetings and exchanges with party workers.
The SP-BSP combination has yet to be put to the test in a state election, where it may have proven most successful. Reorganizing their troops to strengthen their caste voting base maybe SP and BSP’s last hope in 2022. On the other hand, Will Mayawati shoulder the responsibility of reaching out to Akhilesh for a “game-changer”?
Given that both Mayawati and Akhilesh regard themselves as the CM’s face, this is unlikely to happen. When it comes to the CM’s ‘kursi,’ the much-lauded Bua-Bhatija (nephew-aunt) connection fails the test (chair).