Mayawati has dusted off the Sarvasamaj plank. But will the Brahmins fall for the BSP’s charm offensive?
Even as the Congress and the Samajwadi Party indulge in an ugly war of words, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is quietly working on a “comeback plan” by gearing up for the 2014 General Election. Voted out of power in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the mercurial leader is busy giving finishing touches to the BSP poll strategy. The party has already finalised the candidates for most of the seats.
In the 2009 General Election, the BSP had a vote share of 27.42 per cent, but managed only 20 out of 80 seats. The SP, Congress and BJP had 23, 21 and 10 seats respectively. “We have already prepared a detailed report of all the constituencies, caste profiles and the performance of BSP candidates in the 2009 Parliamentary and 2012 Assembly elections,” said a BSP leader on the condition of anonymity, before the 17 April meeting was held in Lucknow. “The report, which includes recommendations of the party coordinators on the best possible candidate, has been studied by senior leaders. After deliberations with middle-rung leaders, Mayawati would put her stamp of approval on the final list before a formal announcement is made.”
The 17 April meeting was attended by important office-bearers, MLAs, MLCs, MPs and probable candidates and the strategy for the 2014 election was discussed, according to sources. “Behenji’s goals are very clear. She wants to regain the political ground that the party lost to the SP last year,” says another BSP leader on the condition of anonymity. “She wants to emerge as a formidable player in national politics in 2014. As per our estimates, neither of the two alliances at the Centre, the UPA and the NDA, will be in a position to form the Government on its own. Thus, there will be plenty of opportunities for the BSP to play a big role.” The BSP organised Brahmin convention in Lucknow on 18 April showed Brahmins are crucial to the BSP’s ‘Sarvasamaj’ social coalition plank and the party is desperate to win over the support of the upper castes who had deserted them in the Assembly polls. However, retaining the Brahmin support will be an uphill task for the party, which took a strident stand on the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill providing for quotas in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in Government jobs. Moreover, the upper castes are disenchanted with the BSP because when the party was in power in 2007-12, Mayawati had vigorously pursued the policy of implementing quotas in promotions in Uttar Pradesh.
Several organisations of officers and employees had challenged the BSP Government’s policy in Allahabad High Court, which later quashed the order. In April 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court judgment. After taking over as Chief Minister on 15 March 2012, Akhilesh Yadav was quick to grab the opportunity to win over the upper castes and revoked the quota policy. In the past 13 months, hundreds of engineers from the upper caste, OBC and Muslim communities, who were denied promotion during the BSP rule, have been promoted.
“It’s a nefarious design of the SP. They are spreading a canard only to drive a wedge between the BSP and the upper castes,” says BSP State unit president Ram Achal Rajbhar. “Behenji did nothing new. Quotas in promotions for SCs and STs in Government services has been in force since 1955 as provided in the Indian Constitution.”
Meanwhile, BSP leaders are confident that the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh will end up in a backlash against the SP in the Lok Sabha election. “The 13-month SP rule has proved to be nightmare for the people of Uttar Pradesh,” says BSP general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya. “Their worst apprehensions were confirmed by the reign of terror unleashed by SP leaders and ministers after the DSP of Kunda was killed at the behest of senior Cabinet Minister Raja Bhaiyya.”
“The writing on the wall is clear. People are realising their folly in voting for the SP. Under Behenji’s leadership we will romp home with stunning results in the 2014 election,” he says.
Mulayam The Winner, Mayawati Kingmaker?
Win Uttar Pradesh, rule New Delhi, is the mantra in Indian politics. While the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) entertain dreams of regaining up, the C-Voter poll predicts it will again come down to a Mulayam Singh Yadav- Mayawati battle. In a State which contributes a massive 80 seats to the Lok Sabha, Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party (SP) is poised to continue its recent good show in Uttar Pradesh.
But the gains for SP won’t be as massive as Mulayam would have liked with Mayawati expected to hold her own. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is poised to take away a big chunk from Rahul Gandhi’s big political moment of 2009. With Congress headed for a rout n the Hindi heartland and BJP not making any headway numerically, Mulayam Singh Yadav has been very vocal about a Third Front post polls. But if the C-Voter numbers come true, it will be Mayawati who may emerge as the king maker from Uttar Pradesh.