Today, a Brahmin leader left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) boat. It is continuing the flurry of exits the principal opposition party of Uttar Pradesh is witnessing.
But contrary to the ‘first response’ reflex, the BSP boat is not sinking. It is, in fact, projected to sail through the waves of the upcoming UP assembly polls easily to reach the power corridors of Lucknow, the UP capital city.
The fact is, the leaders who have left the BJP in recent days, mostly OBCs and Forwards, all have found their personal cruises coming to a halt in the party that was formed with sole aim of taking on OBC and forward communities but the electoral compulsions later on forced it to become from anti-Manuwadi to Brahmin’s newfound voice – the so-called Brahmin-Dalit social engineering that sent Mayawati zooming to UP chief minister’s office.
But Mayawati’s social engineering of a Brahmin-Dalit didn’t work in 2012 assembly polls. On the flip side, it in fact, alienated many Dalit voters who voted for the Samajwadi Party (SP), the main contender of the OBC votes in UP who constitute some 45-50 percent of the state’s population.
The SP, with a novelty factor of projecting a young and clean chief-ministerial face, Akhilesh Yadav, smashed the electoral scene and won the UP assembly polls with Muslim support who had always seen in SP a natural ally with Mayawati’s experimental bent towards the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
This time around, Mayawati is trying a different sort of social engineering – trying to front a Dalit-Muslim combine and encashing it with votes when the state goes to the polls next year.
Dalits (or SCs) are 20 percent of UP’s population while Muslims 18.5 percent. The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and won 206 seats. In 2012, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent. That means Mayawati has a window of 10 percent to work on here equations – as it is clear that not all of this is electoral population and not all of electoral population would vote for the BSP.
So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing seems opportune. Muslims are miffed with the SP after a number of riots including the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 and Dadri lynching incident of 2015 where a Muslim was killed for allegedly consuming and storing beef.
What Mayawati needs is a strong polarization of the Dalit-Muslim combine in her favour and split in votes of other parties. And that seems most plausible at the moment. Forward castes may face a dilemma this time with Congress’ Brahmin card by announcing Sheila Dikshit as the CM face. Their condition becomes more precarious as the BJP, the party they were basing their hopes on in the recent times, chose to send a message that the party was going to adopt OBC politics when it appointed an OBC state president (Keshav Maurya) replacing a Brahmin (Laxmikant Bajpai).
OBC voters may face the dilemma because of the BJP’s projections of its tilt to the OBC politics – exploiting the sentiments on its state party president and Narendra Modi’s OBC background.