The stakes are sky high for BSP supremo Mayawati in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, especially after the unprecedented rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Behenji is relying on the time-tested formula of a rainbow coalition of Brahmins, Dalits and Muslims. As the turf war in the ruling Samajwadi Party intensifies, Mayawati's hopes of regaining lost ground have been rekindled.
On Tuesday, she defied the Supreme Court judgment which ruled that seeking votes on the basis of caste, creed, religion or language was illegal and went ahead and announced the caste- and relgion-wise break-up of the 403 candidates set to fight the polls on BSP tickets. She had indicated that she would announce the names after the model code of conduct comes into force. True to her promise, on Thursday, she announced a list of 100 candidates.
|Mayawati is possibly guided by the fact that there may be a tectonic shift in the way the minority votes following the infighting within SP. Photo: PTI|
The list seems to have been prepared with the sole intent of garnering votes on the basis of caste and religion. Earlier, Mayawati had proudly proclaimed that of the 403 candidates, she had given tickets to 87 Dalits, 97 Muslims and 106 other backward castes and 113 to the upper caste, including 66 to Brahmins.
Mayawati is possibly guided by the fact that there may be a tectonic shift in the way the minority votes following the infighting within the Samajwadi Party.
While critics may take a dig at Mayawati's inflated expectations, the BSP seems to be relying heavily on the minority vote. The BSP supremo has time and again alleged that the BJP and the SP are two sides of the same coin and essentially hand in glove. As such, the minorities should lean towards the BSP. But any drastic shift is a far-fetched dream and the probability of a division within the minority vote appears more likely.
This may turn out to be a dampener for Mayawati. On the other hand, by drifting away from the old guard in the Samajwadi Party and banking on the development issue, Akhilesh Yadav may succeed in curbing the anti-incumbency factor to a great extent.
This may aggravate further if the Congress allies with Akhilesh Yadav. In this eventuality, Mayawati's dream of engineering a shift of the minority votes towards the BSP may be far from reality.
Giving 66 tickets to Brahmins too will not guarantee the BSP majority votes, as the upper caste may not stray from the Lok Sabha pattern. In the last few months, some of the close aides of Mayawati have switched over to the BJP and this may contribute as a significant blow in the prospects of the BSP.
The opposition, despite raking up issues of demonetisation and the ordinary citizens' suffering, man have failed to make it an emotive issue. On the other hand, the issue seems to be working in the BJP's favour according to India Today pre-poll survey. But if she manages to stitch the rainbow alliance, the BSP can become a cause of worry for the BJP and the SP.