Poll-bound UP seems to be heading to a gripping climax. While the ruling-BJP is having a difficult time appeasing Brahmins, heavyweight Dalit leaders have decided to abandon ship and join SP instead. Congress could emerge king-maker at best, annihilated at worst. However, it is the BSP’s kismet that remains a mystery. Which way will its traditional voters go and what will happen to Mayawati post the crucial Assembly elections leads to as many answers as it does to questions.
Two diverse possibilities emerge. First, BSP’s core support base, which largely comes from the Jatav castes, would remain intact; and second, such voters would move towards new alternatives, causing a further decline of BSP, just like the party has been declining in other neighbouring states.
The BSP has gone through an internal transformation from a cadre-based party to a patronage-based organisation in the last 15 years. It has also seen a mass exodus of such leaders in the past decade, causing a decline in communication between Mayawati and her voters. Added, the banning of public rallies in view of the rising covid cases will only obliterate Behnji’s muted presence in the election scape.
BSP’s core voters have been getting punished for their continuous support of Mayawati. From 2012-17, they were discriminated against during the Akhilesh Yadav government when several welfare policies meant for their empowerment were scrapped, the SC/ST officers were demoted, and several districts were renamed.
However, the situation did not improve in the BJP regime. In fact, it is argued that the BJP has built up a social coalition of backward castes and scheduled castes along with dominant upper castes excluding Yadavs, Jatavs, and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.
Despite being 60 per cent of UP’s scheduled caste population, Yogi Adityanath has appointed only one minister Dr G.S. Dharmesh, and that is at the rank of state minister from this community.
The systematic exclusion from political power created anxiety among the social and political elites of BSP’s core voters, forcing Mayawati to form an alliance with Akhilesh Yadav in the 2019 General Election.
The BSP-SP alliance gave an opportunity to the social and political elites of both parties to bury their differences for ending their political exclusion. However, when Mayawati announced the breaking of the alliance with the SP, her colleagues disagreed and started leaving the party to join the SP.
This time around, political pundits are placing bets on a post-election tie up between the Congress and BSP. Only time will tell if the two strong woman of UP can unitedly wrest power from the BJP clutch.