If you are fond of watching Animal Planet or are forced to do so because of your kids (as in my case), you may well know about "brood parasites". They rely on fooling a host into raising their young.
The best known example is the cuckoo bird. She does not make her own nest and lays eggs into the nest of some other bird species. The poor host protects, incubates, hatches and at times, even feeds the young offspring of the cuckoo under the impression that it is her own baby.
By the time the host bird realises that she has been deceived and tries to push the newborn cuckoo out of her nest, often, it's too little, too late.
It was too little, too late when Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally decided to break his silence over the violence of gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) in his town hall speech on Saturday. The damage has already been done.
Mayawati may not have acted as a cunning "brood parasite" to put a cow in the BJP's courtyard, but thanks to the lumpen gau rakshaks, BJP has played perfectly the role of a stupid host nursing and feeding the cause of a rival party.
While the BJP and its fringe groups were busy nurturing the cause of cow protection, garlanding the gau mata, putting vermilion on its forehead and its gau rakshak goons were running amok thrashing Dalits and Muslims, Mayawati has had ample of time to secretly milk the BJP's "gau".
|It was too little, too late when Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally decided to break his silence over the violence of gau rakshaks.|
Gau mata has actually proved to be divine for Mayawati. It has blessed her with exactly what she has been desperately looking for in run up to elections - potent ingredients to cook up a recipe of Dalit-Muslim coalition.
As the fire over Dalit and Muslim bashing rages on across the various BJP-ruled states, Mayawati is happy to see her bucket getting filled up to the brim. What no leader of her party could do, the cow has done effortlessly.
Till just a month back, the picture of Uttar Pradesh elections was not looking very rosy for Mayawati. The party was facing a series of rebellion by trusted aides at this crucial time.
Allegations of extorting money in lieu of tickets were flying thick and archrival Samajwadi Party was turning on the heat by showcasing development to curb anti-incumbency.
Congress was putting its best foot forward and Prashant Kishor was orchestrating the comeback of the grand old party with the Rahul and Priyanka combo sprinkled in.
But her biggest worry was coming from the saffron brigade.
BJP and RSS were aggressively pursuing the agenda of Dalit outreach to wean away a section of Dalits from her core vote bank. And there was no way she could take this threat lightly.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the shrewd strategist Amit Shah had proved how effectively the Hindu identity could be stroked up to overshadow caste, reducing BSP to zero seats.
The upper castes are disenchanted with her and there is little possibility that the magic of Dalit-Brahmin coalition, which gave her full majority in 2007, could be repeated.
This time around she is betting heavily on Muslims to join force with her Dalit vote bank and sail her through.
But the problem is, there are already two strong contenders for Muslim votes - the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.
BSP did not have any USP to woo the Muslims. So far, Mayawati's Dalit- Muslim social engineering was, at the most, looking like a novel experiment.
And then, the "gau" entered into the picture.
From Dadri in Uttar Pradesh where Akhlaq was killed over beef and Una in Gujarat where four people were thrashed badly for skinning the dead animal; from Manesar in Haryana where alleged beef transporters were made to eat cow dung, to Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where two women were punched and kicked publicly by gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) over suspected meat – one message was loud and clear.
At the receiving end of the violence over cow - there was always either a Dalit or a Muslim. This was the hook Mayawati was looking for.
Modi may be talking about preparing dossiers on the background of criminals in the garb of gau rakshaks, but for Mayawati, the entire plot is now set.
Harp on the fear factor of BJP and consolidate and bring together the Dalit and Muslims vote bank.
To give out a message, she travelled to Una and handed over a cheque of Rs 2 lakh each to the Dalit victims who were flogged.
In Parliament, she was at her combative best when she said: "When I saw the incident in Una, I felt as if I was being flogged. The Modi government, in the name of gau raksha, was first inflicting pain on Muslims and now Dalits are being targeted."
While Dayashankar Singh gave Mayawati a chance to gain sympathy among the Dalits who have been the victims of feudal atrocities in past, the cow brigade has given a cause to reach to the Muslims and Dalits together.
How hopeful Mayawati is about the Dalit-Muslim combine can be gauged from the fact that this time she is going to give more than 100 tickets to Muslim candidates. In 2007, she had given tickets to 61 Muslims and in 2012 to 85.
The Dalit- Muslim combination has not been tested so far in a big way in UP. But if it really works, it can be a lethal combination. With about 21 per cent Dalits and 18 per cent Muslims, together they form a formidable 39 per cent vote bank.
To put that in perspective, in 2012 Assembly elections, Samajwadi Party got 29 per cent votes and formed a full majority government with 224 seats.
If Muslims consolidate behind Dalits for Mayawati, they can swing the results on as many as 250 seats out of total 403 in Uttar Pradesh.
Projecting Nasimuddin Siddiqui as the Muslim face of party, the BSP has already decided to make it their main recipe to serve the voters during elections. Now all she wants from the BJP is to keep the pot boiling.
If she succeeds, Mayawati may well turn to the BJP and say - what's the need to buy a gau when you can milk it for free!