Mayawati directionless BSP collapsing?

 

by Biswajit Bannerjee

 

An eerie silence engulfs 12 Mall Avenue – the State BSP Headquarters in Lucknow. “Koi Nahi hai (No one is here),” shouted Ram Saran, peeping out of the window of the receptionist’s office.” “No one comes now. It is almost six months that senior leaders visited the office,” he said shutting the window not before asking the guards not to allow anyone to enter the premises.

 

This is the state of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which was in power just three years back and now stands tattered. The party workers are directionless and leaders are confused. So much so that many leaders have started joining BJP or Samajwadi Party. “Exodus is on. No one can stop leaders from joining other parties because they are not sure about their future.

 

Mayawati seldom meets workers and other senior leaders like Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Swamy Prasad Maurya and Satish Chandra Mishra themselves do not know what to do,” a senior leader said.

 

BSP leadership had never found itself in such a helpless position. Party with a Dalit base was a force to reckon with. In just concluded Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand – the party won only one seat while it contested 68 seats – 27 in Jammu and 41 in Jharkhand. This shows the might of this party is on the wane now.

 

The writing was on the wall for the party after Lok Sabha elections when BSP drew a blank in Uttar Pradesh. This result busted the myth that Dalits are solidly behind Mayawati. It is for the first time in last two decades that they became floaters. In Lok Sabha elections, they voted in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while in bye-elections the Dalits voted for Samajwadi Party negating an appeal of Mayawati to support independent candidates of their areas. BSP did not contest bye-elections.

 

This development has made Mayawati shaky. She knows BSP can go for new alliances under social engineering only if she enjoys the backing of ‘bahujan samaj’. The upper caste has already tilted towards BJP and this politically sensitive class would not align with BSP until the party has a complete support of Dalits. This political thinking has made Mayawati to change her strategy. Post Lok sabha election debacle, Mayawati had held a meeting of party leaders of “hardcore BSP cadre” and surprisingly, Satish Chandra Misra was not among the invitee. Questions were raised about the importance of Brahmin leaders in the party. It was also asked as how many Brahmins have voted in favour of BSP in Lok Sabha elections. It was made clear in that meeting that top posts in the party would now go to Dalits and within a week the party units were disbanded.

 

Mayawati has decided to return to the BAMCEF (Backward And Minority Communities Employees’ Federation) strategy that was pursued by the late Kanshi Ram and had helped the BSP reach the pinnacle of power in UP in 2007. Kanshi Ram, while building the BSP, had kept his focus on Dalits and most backward castes. He had never shown any inclination to bring upper castes into the party fold.

 

Working on this strategy, senior Bahaujan Samaj Party leader Swamy Prasad Maurya asked party workers not to worship Ganesh and Gauri during marriage ceremonies in their family as it was reflection of Manuvadi mentality. This was done with a clear intention to segregate Dalits from the upper caste. Even Mayawati visited the house of Badaun alleged gang rape victim. The family belonged to Shakya community – a politically sensitive OBC community in Central Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati generally does not visit victims but here, she preferred to walk an extra mile to keep her party’s political interest alive. But the fact remains that Mayawati has stopped meeting workers.

 

The coterie of Mishra, Siddiqui and Swamy – are the only medium of communication between her and workers. With BSP out of power and Dalits finding new political home, it would be crucial for Mayawati to set her house in order. If she does not act fast – it could be too late for her.

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