Bahujan Samaj Party is gearing up to emerge as the principal opposition to Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh. For this goal, the BSP will fight the by-election to 13 UP Assembly seats with all its might and the principal objective behind the exercise is to ensure the defeat of Samajwadi Party.
“A weak Samajwadi Party can make Dalit-Muslim unity work for BSP during the forthcoming by-elections,” a BSP leader said.
The Samajwadi Party leaders accused the BSP of being in cahoots with the BJP in a bid to harm their electoral prospects. The BSP is confident that it can be a real beneficiary by increasing political marginalisation of its past arch-rival Samajwadi Party.
BSP sources said the marginalisation of SP had ignited Muslim-Dalit consolidation by default, something which Mayawati’s mentor Kanshi Ram tried hard during his life time. In the last one month, three Rajya Sabha MPs of Samajwadi Party have quit and joined BJP while two more are said to be in the queue. This comes after SP’s tepid performance in Lok Sabha polls in which its alliance with BSP ended up paying off Mayawati’s BSP more than Akhilesh Yadav with the former winning 10 Lok Sabha seats, double of five that the SP won.
Mayawati, who immediately after the Lok Sabha poll results snapped ties with SP, has repeatedly trained guns on the Samajwadi Party along Congress over many issues, seeking to project herself as the only alternative to the BJP,.
In 2017 Assembly polls, the Congress and SP had fought together while BSP went it alone. An alliance with Congress had made the SP first choice of Muslims, who even otherwise did not trust BSP fully owing to its past of aligning with the BJP.
Already in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, of its 10 MPs, BSP has three from the Muslim community and one from Yadav community while SP has three from Muslim community among its five — the rest two being Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav. It is believed that a section of Yadavs preferred BJP over SP during Lok Sabha polls.
The BSP, however, apprehends challenge from Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad, who is making a strong pitch for Dalit-Muslim unity, asserting that the combination can play a major role in UP’s future politics.
The BSP sources said the party could meet the challenge by hard work at the grass-roots level. The power struggle in the SP’s family backyard — a tussle between Akhilesh Yadav and her estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, coupled with the defeat of SP — has already disillusioned the Yadavs. Muslims constitute of 19.3% of the total population in UP while Dalits divided into 21 castes (maximum Jatavs) constitute of 21.1% and Yadavs 9% of the total population of the state.
Earlier, Muslims and Yadavs worked together making SP a formidable contender for power. Of late though, there has been a breach in Yadav votes.