DALIT-MUSLIM COMBINE: MAYAWATI’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR 2017 UP POLLS

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has announced almost all candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls due next month. Keeping her promise, she has given tickets to 97 Muslim candidates, almost one-fourth of the total 401 candidates announced so far. UP state assembly has 403 seats.

In the 2007 assembly polls, the BSP gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections. In the 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count. And now it is at 25 percent.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended – because the timing looks opportune.

WINNING NUMBERS

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party absolute majority in the UP assembly.

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.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And going by the prolonged Samajwadi Party (SP) internal power struggle that may alienate Muslims, who have traditionally voted for the SP, the timing looks perfect.

According to a CSDS report, 17 percent Muslims voted for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012. That may come significantly down this time, especially when Mayawati has made it clear that it will not go for any pre or post poll alliance.

There are expectations that the ongoing SP feud may earn positive points for UP’s chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as he has tried to shape this power battle within his own family and party as a war being waged against corruption with an uncompromising attitude. But how far it can help Akhilesh only time will tell and time has already run out.

Add to it the Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath with the stories of a life like hell in the camps for the riots affected people and the Dadri lynching incidents have the potential to erode the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims like never before.

REDUCING CLOUT OF THE UPPER CASTE CANDIDATES

It’s natural corollary then that the number of the upper caste candidates has to come down.

And they indeed have come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which came down to 117 in 2012 and has further reduced to 111 this time. Though they are still the largest block of the BSP candidates, the trend from the 2007 high shows their reducing clout.

The 2012 polls saw greater jumps in the SP’s Brahmin and Rajput vote shares than the BSP – Brahmins from 10 to 19 percent and Rajputs from 20 to 26 percent, the CSDS analysis says. In fact, there was even a decline in the Yadav vote share – from 72 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2012. But it was compensated well with increase in more Kurmis/Koeris (17 to 35 percent), Jatavs (4 to 15 percent) and Balmikis (2 to 9 percent).

ADDRESSING THE DALIT VOTERS

Doing so will address the chances of Dalit voters slipping away from the BSP fold as happened in the 2012 assembly polls. According to the CSDS analysis, 86 percent Jatav voters voted for the BSP in 2007 which drastically came down to 62 percent in 2012. Even more telling was the reduction in the Balmiki vote share which came down by over 40 percent – from 71 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.

The major reason behind this then was ascribed to Mayawati’s increasing tilt to the upper caste voters. The alienating Dalit voters felt disillusioned probably.

Also, the upper caste bet did not play well for Mayawati in the 2012 assembly polls. Even if Mayawati had given tickets to 117 upper caste candidates in 2012, 22 less than 2007, they were still the largest block of the BSP candidates. But according to the CSDS analysis, there was only a small increase in the upper caste vote share of the party – Brahmins from 16 to 19 percent, Rajputs from 12 to 14 percent and the other upper castes from 15 to 17 percent.

Not at all anywhere near to compensating the huge loss the BSP got – of Jatav and Balmiki votes! Even the share of the other SCs in the BSP’s overall votes profile, too, came down by 13 percent – from 58 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Now if Mayawati goes full throttle behind this Dalit constituency and works to add more Muslims to her vote base, from the existing 20 percent, she will be having a winning combination then.

©SantoshChaubey

BSP CANDIDATES FROM 2007 TO 2017: OPTIMISM SOARS WITH MUSLIMS, PRIORITY ON UPPER CASTES DECLINES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Out of 403, the BSP has announced its 401 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls and according to Mayawati, the upper caste candidates are still the largest block of the candidates with 111 tickets given to them. According to a party release, candidates for the two remaining seats will be announced once the Election Commission decides about their reservation status.

There are 106 OBC candidates in the list. Muslims form the third largest block with 97 tickets given while, as in the previous assembly polls, Dalits remain under the hundred zone with 88 candidates in the fray. The party had given tickets to 89 Dalits in 2007 polls while the figure stood at 88 in the 2012 polls.

In 2012 assembly polls, the BSP had given tickets to the 117 upper caste candidates, 113 to the OBCs candidates and 85 to the Muslims candidates.

In 2007 assembly polls, the party break-up for its candidates was 139 tickets to the upper caste candidates, 110 tickets to the OBCs and 61 tickets to the Muslim candidates.

The trend since 2007, when India’s most populous state got it first government to complete full five years in office in Mayawati’s BSP, shows the rising prominence of Muslims in the BSP caste calculations.

Some months ago Mayawati had announced that her party would field around 100 Muslim candidates this time. In fact, Muslims are the only block of candidates that have seen consistent rise in the BSP’s votebank arithmetic since the 2007 assembly polls.

The number of tickets given to the OBC and Dalit candidates have remain more or less static since 2007 as the numbers say but the upper caste candidates have seen the biggest decline in their numbers, from as high as 139 in 2007 to 113 now.

The trend shows the BSP’s rising optimism with the Muslim voters and the declining priority when it comes to the upper caste population segments. The Muslim candidates have seen a whopping rise of 60 per cent from 2007 to 2017 while the number of upper caste candidates has come down by 20 per cent in the same period.

©SantoshChaubey

MAYAWATI’S ANTI-DALIT HEAT MAY BE ON BJP, BUT SP IS GOING TO PAY IN REAL TERMS

There have been more than enough incidents to give the political opposition ammunition to portray the BJP as an anti-Dalit party but what is interesting is how it is going to play out in Uttar Pradesh.

In the prevailing political circumstances, we can safely say that Uttar Pradesh is going to see a dual battle again, as usual, between the two main political parties of the state – the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – as the Congress is effectively out – and the BJP has lost the opportunity – though both of these parties will not leave any stone unturned in campaigning and canvassing.

That would add more colour to the atmosphere as the days to the upcoming assembly polls approach near.

But the core battle would be between the SP and the BSP only. And the BSP has clear edge this time – with caste equations, social engineering and anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav led SP government of Uttar Pradesh – slated to play out well for her.

Any development on the caste equation scenario, anything that would help Mayawati’s social engineering formula, that is going to be Dalit+Muslim combination this time, would hurt the SP more than the BJP.

If the BJP is facing the heat on the reports of anti-Dalit acts in the BJP ruled states and by the BJP leaders, Mayawati is going to be its beneficiary in the UP’s electoral politics, especially after a senior BJP leader of Uttar Pradesh compared Mayawati with prostitute. Initially Mayawati dismissed the issue but soon started ratcheting up her pitch terming it the attack on the Dalit identity. The senior BSP strategists would have advised Mayawati the Dalit politics potential of the issue after she initially dismissed it. That’s why we saw a changed Mayawati when the Rajya Sabha decided to debate the issue later in the day.

She was roaring. And she has kept roaring. Even if there have been clear debacles after the abusive behaviour of her party leaders came out in open who used derogatory language against women family members of Daya Shankar Singh, the expelled BJP leader who had used derogatory remarks against Mayawati and who is now on the run.

Even if Mayawati was forced to cancel his party’s statewide protests tomorrow, there was no sign that Mayawati was going to leave the issue. She, in fact, defended the language used by her party members.

Because she knows what she can get by playing the victim card to the hilt – consolidation of the Dalit voters behind her – something that the SP would like to scuttle at any cost.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

MUSLIM TILT TO MAYAWATI’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING

The article appeared on DailyO under the title – Dalits-Muslims will be Mayawati’s trump cards in UP polls.

In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections.

In the 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count.

And for the next year’s assembly polls (in 2017), the party has announced to field over 100 Muslim candidates – almost 25 percent of the 403 candidates that the party would field for the 403 assembly seats of UP – as Mayawati has announced that the BSP would not form any pre-poll alliance.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended – because the timing is opportune and the atmosphere is conducive.

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party absolute majority in the UP assembly.

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.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing is perfect. According to a CSDS report, 17 percent Muslims voted for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012.

And in the prevailing circumstances, it is expected to come down further and here Mayawati sees her prospects. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath with the stories of a life like hell in the camps for the riots affected people and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

To give her social engineering a Muslim tilt this time, Mayawati has decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, mostly in the areas of dense Muslim populations of the Western UP. And we should not be surprised if the count of the Muslim BSP candidates further goes up.

It’s natural corollary then that the number of the upper caste candidates has to come down.

And they indeed have come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which was reduced to 117 in 2012. Now, to consolidate her Dalit-Muslim plank, the BSP may decide to slash the tickets to the upper caste candidates even further.

Doing so will address the chances of Dalit voters slipping away from the BSP fold as happened in the 2012 assembly polls. According to the CSDS analysis, 86 percent Jatav voters voted for the BSP in 2007 which drastically came down to 62 percent in 2012. Even more telling was the reduction in the Balmiki vote share which came down by over 40 percent – from 71 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.

The major reason behind this then was ascribed to Mayawati’s increasing tilt to the upper caste voters. The alienating Dalit voters felt disillusioned probably.

Also, the upper caste bet did not play well for Mayawati in the 2012 assembly polls. Even if Mayawati had given tickets to 117 upper caste candidates in 2012, 22 less than 2007, they were still the largest block of the BSP candidates. But according to the CSDS analysis, there was only a small increase in the upper caste vote share of the party – Brahmins from 16 to 19 percent, Rajputs from 12 to 14 percent and the other upper castes from 15 to 17 percent.

Not at all anywhere near to compensating the huge loss the BSP got – of Jatav and Balmiki votes! Even the share of the other SCs in the BSP’s overall votes profile, too, came down by 13 percent – from 58 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Now if Mayawati goes full throttle behind this Dalit constituency and works to add more Muslims to her vote base, from the existing 20 percent, she will be having a winning combination then.

And to support her caste equations, she has the second most important electoral factor in her favour this time – the anti-incumbency. With her social engineering and a prevailing anti-incumbency against the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, she excelled in the 2007 polls.

In 2012, along with the disenchantment of a large section of the Dalit voters, she had behind her the anti-incumbency accumulated over the five years of her rule. Added to it was the promises of change from a young leader – Akhilesh Yadav – with a clean slate and professional education to back his credentials.

The 2012 polls saw greater jumps in the SP’s Brahmin and Rajput vote shares than the BSP – Brahmins from 10 to 19 percent and Rajputs from 20 to 26 percent, the CSDS analysis says. In fact, there was even a decline in the Yadav vote share – from 72 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2012. But it was compensated well with increase in more Kurmis/Koeris (17 to 35 percent), Jatavs (4 to 15 percent) and Balmikis (2 to 9 percent).

So, the upper castes showed a greater tilt towards the SP last time – in absence of any credible challenges from the BJP and the Congress – the traditional blocks for the upper caste voters.

Now that the BJP is in race, after winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of over 42 percent (along with ally Apna Dal which won two seats), the BSP may feel it is better to utilise it energy in galvanizing its traditional vote bank – the Dalits – and add a community to its profile that is traditionally anti-BJP and is feeling disenchanted with the SP – the Muslims – and leave the upper castes and the OBCs, the SP stronghold, to them.

Even the BJP strategists are reading this writing on the wall – of Mayawati’s efforts to create a winning Dalit-Muslim alliance and the party has started a campaign to counter it. The BJP is trying to send out a message that the Dalits and the Muslims have been historical adversaries. Only the poll outcome will tell how effective it is going to be.

This doesn’t mean that the BSP would abandon the upper caste plank of the its social engineering. Yes, but it would restrict its approach to them to the extent so as to not to alienate the core base it is trying to win.

And the other political block, the Congress is down and out even if there are reports that Priyanka Gandhi would spearhead the poll campaign in UP. If the party performs well, it will be nothing less than a miracle.

©SantoshChaubey

MAYAWATI’S ‘MUSLIM’ EXPERIMENT

In 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections.

In 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count.

And for the next year’s assembly polls (in 2017), the party has announced to field over 100 Muslim candidates – almost 25 percent of the 403 candidates that the party would field for the 403 assembly seats of UP – as Mayawati has announced that the BSP would not form any pre-poll alliance.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended.

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party the absolute majority in the UP assembly.

The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and it had won 206 seats. In 2016, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent.

So, a combine a 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing is perfect. According to a CSDS report, 18 percent Muslims votes for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012.

And it the prevailing circumstances, it is expected to come down further and here Mayawati sees her prospects. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

To give her social engineering a Muslim tilt this time, Mayawati has decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, mostly in the areas of dense Muslim populations in the Western UP. And we should not be surprised the count goes up more.

It’s natural corollary is that the number of the upper caste candidates have to come down. And they have indeed come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which was reduced to 117 upper caste BSP candidates in 2012. Now, to consolidate her Dalit-Muslim plank, the BSP may decide to slash the tickets to the upper caste candidates even more.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

WHY MAURYA’S EXIT WOULDN’T IMPACT BSP’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING

Because the OBCs don’t figure in this!

Though the opinion is divided on the possible impact of the exit of Swami Prasad Maurya, the OBC face of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on BSP’s prospects, it is beyond any doubt that the prospects can prove detrimental.

It is further bolstered by the fact that Swami Prasad Maurya is yet to come clear on his future political plans.

On June 22, Swami Prasad Maurya, a BSP MLA and the Leader of Opposition of the party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly quit the BSP alleging Mayawati of being dictatorial and corrupt. He alleged that the OBC workers were being ignored in the BSP and Mayawati was indulged in open auctioning of the party tickets for the next assembly polls. Mayawati hit back and said Swami Prasad Maurya felt ‘suffocated’ in the BSP because she denied tickets to his son and daughter and that she herself was soon to expel Maurya from the BSP.

Two senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders, Shivpal Yadav and Azam Khan, rushed to praise Swami Prasad Maurya soon after it. They said he was a good person and a respectable politician. Azam Khan went on to the extent to say that he wanted Maurya to join his party. Akhilesh Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, found him a popular leader.

But next day he became a ‘mentally unsound’ and lowly fellow when Maurya said that there was no question of joining the SP, a party of ‘goondas and mafias’. And it was the same Shivpal Yadav who described him with these words.

So Maurya is not joining the SP. He also met with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and there are chances that he may find a place there as the BJP is trying to strengthen its OBC plank – with an OBC president and Narendra Modi himself being an OBC.

But it doesn’t impact the BSP. If Maurya’s move can at all be any threat, it will for the SP, the party UP’s OBC voters traditionally have voted for.

Swami Prasad Maurya has been the BSP’s OBC face. He is an influential leader and can help strengthening the balance of the OBC votes in the favour of the BJP. The SP is trying to check the split in the OBC votes, an SP forte, in case of any threat presented by another influential OBC leader, Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister, and his party JD(U).

Projections, surveys and political analyses have started predicting a lead to Mayawati’s BSP.

In a television opinion poll in March 2016, she was shown winning 185 seats in the 403 members UP assembly along with 31% vote share, while the SP was shown reduced to just 80 seats with 23% votes. The projection showed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the second largest party with 120 seats and 24% votes.

Besides, Mayawati has also been cosying up with the Congress. Her decision to support Harish Rawat in the court monitored trust vote in the Uttarakhand assembly was a clear signal to the Muslim voters that she is against the BJP.

Her projected 31% vote share would make a formidable alliance when taken together with the Congress’s 12% that it got in the 2012 UP assembly polls.

That is more than enough for the party to sail through given the fact that the BJP swept UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with a 42% vote share. The BJP along with its ally Apna Dal won 73 out of 80 UP Lok Sabha seats then.

Then there is another pillar of the BSP’s social engineering – the Brahmin votebank. Brahmins constitute around 13% of voters in the state and were an important factor in ensuring the BSP’s emphatic victory in the 2007 UP assembly polls.

These developments – coupled with the sky-high anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government and a rock-bottom law and order scenario in the state – and with the BJP’s insistence on the OBC votes (the BJP made an OBC state president in UP by removing a Brahmin) gives the BSP an ideal platform to exercise its social engineering experiment – like it had done in the 2007 assembly polls that had sent Mayawati to Lucknow’s Secretariat with a complete majority in the UP assembly.

The Dalits constitute 20% of the state population and are seen loyal to Mayawati. They form a deadly alliance with the Muslims (18.5%) and the Brahmins (13%). That is a whopping 51.5% – more than enough to give the BSP an absolute majority.

And a Swami Prasad Maurya cannot do anything to hurt this prospect. Let’s see how the UP politics rolls out further. Let’s see if Mayawati can replicate her social engineering experiment of 2007 by building on the factors that again look in her favour.

©SantoshChaubey

AKHILESH YADAV PREVAILS..FOR NOW!

Finally, the Samajwadi Party-Quami Ekta Dal merger is off – after Akhilesh Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and the SP’s state president made his anger public today. He said he would always oppose entry of people like Mukhtar Ansari into the SP. He said that he had no involvement in this decision and he would always speak his mind wherever necessary.

On June 21, the Quami Ekta Dal (QED), the political party founded by Mukhtar Ansari, a notorious gangster and criminal-turned-politician who is presently lodged in jail, merged with the SP – in spite of the stiff opposition from Akhilesh Yadav. The merger was obviously to exploit Mukhtar Ansari’s appeal among the sections of Muslim voters who see him as some ‘Robin Hood’ figure.

So displeased was Akhilesh with the merger that he sacked his senior minister Balram Yadav, the mediator behind the merger deal, and cancelled his all official engagements of the day. Later, Shivpal who is said to have masterminded the deal along with Amar Singh, another recent SP re-inductee into the party, tried to pacify Akhilesh by saying that the deal had blessings of Mulayam. Balram Yadav, too, reiterated this claim. But it didn’t work.

BUT IT DOESN’T END HERE

Akhilesh Yadav, the 42 year old chief-minister of Uttar Pradesh from the SP, is a sulking man even though he prevailed today – amid the flurry of inductions into the party that Akhilesh is not comfortable with.

And he is facing a resurgent Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh’s uncle and a senior UP minister, who is seen being not on good terms with Akhilesh ever since Mulayam promoted his son Akhilesh instead of him as the UP chief-ministerial face in 2011. He looks calling the shots in the party now – even if the QED merger deal has been called off.

Huge anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government and a rock-bottom law and order scenario in the state are giving the SP nightmares on how to solve the 2017 assembly polls riddle. Four years ago, when Uttar Pradesh had voted Akhilesh Yadav in, he seemed to have a force of his own – a young face, fresh energy, a corruption-free vision – that effectively spoke to the voters – giving the SP 228 assembly seats in a House of 403. People saw that there was a person in the SP who could wash the taint of SP being a political party harbouring criminals.

After four years of Akhilesh Yadav’s in the Lucknow secretariat, all those hopes have gone. The force looks dissipated. Though there have been no allegations of individual corruption on Akhilesh, no one can deny that UP has parallel power centres run by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav and Azam khan – and Akhilesh is not in control. They all behave as if they are the chief ministers of the state.

It seems the top brass of the SP doesn’t believe anymore in the development credentials of the Akhilesh Yadav government to bring home the electoral victory when the state goes to polls the next year. And the top brass has its own way of doing politics – the old SP way – setting and basing everything on caste equations.

SETTING ‘THEIR’ PRIORITIES RIGHT

So, the SP is trying to check the split in the OBC votes, an SP forte, in case of any possible threat presented by another influential OBC leader, Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister and his party JD(U) coupled with the BJP’s drive to rally the OBC votes by quoting Narendra Modi’s OBC credentials and by appointing an OBC, Keshav Prasad Maurya, as the state chief.

And the SP is trying to ensure that the Muslim voters remain loyal to it – the base of voters that, with the OBC votes, gave the SP a thumping victory in the 2012 Assembly polls.

Mukhtar Ansari is a minority face. The QED’s merger tells how desperate the SP is to attract the Muslim votes. There is a clear chance that Muslims will vote for Mayawati this time as they had done in 2007 that had given Mayawati a clear majority. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

The SP top brass including Mulayam wants to win it back at any cost – even if it means antagonising Akhilesh. The failed QED merger with the SP to exploit Mukhtar Ansari’s appeal among the Muslim voters is just an example.

FIRST CLEAR INDICATIONS

When seen in the context of mergers and inductions in the party in the recent months, it tells us that the SP is not convinced with the winnability of Akhilesh.

The first clear indication to which way the wind was going to blow in the SP came in April 2016 when Mulayam made Shivpal incharge of the SP’s UP unit, a position that effectively makes him the election incharge for the next polls. The responsibility was given to Akhilesh in 2012. Though the reports said today that Akhilesh would look after the upcoming elections, there was no official word about it.

Next month, in May 2016, Amar Singh, an old SP hand and a Mulayam favourite, who was expelled from the party, and a person whom Akhilesh doesn’t like, was taken back in the SP fold. Amar Singh is seen as a master deal-broker in the political circles. The same month, another influential OBC leader and an old SP hand, Beni Prasad Verma, Mulayam’s friend-turned-foe, was re-inducted into the party after nine years. Both Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma are now Rajya Sabha members from the SP.

BSP’S STRIDES

Projections, surveys and political analyses have started predicting a lead to Mayawati’s BSP. In an opinion poll in March 2016, she was shown winning 185 seats in the 403 members UP assembly along with 31% vote share, while the SP was shown reduced to just 80 seats with 23% votes. The projection showed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the second largest party with 120 seats and 24% votes.

Besides, Mayawati has also been cosying up with the Congress. Her decision to support Harish Rawat in the court monitored trust vote in the Uttarakhand assembly was a clear signal to the Muslim voters that she is against the BJP.

Her projected 31% vote share would make a formidable alliance when taken together with the Congress’s 12% that it got in the 2012 UP assembly polls.

That is more than enough for the party to sail through given the fact that the BJP swept UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with a 42% vote share. The BJP along with its ally Apna Dal won 73 out of 80 UP Lok Sabha seats then.

Then there is another pillar of the BSP’s social engineering – the Brahmin votebank. Brahmins constitute around 13% of voters in the state and were an important factor in ensuring the BSP’s emphatic victory in the 2007 UP assembly polls.

BACK TO THE OLD SP SCHOOL

As a result, the party leadership, sans Akhilesh Yadav, has probably decided that it is now the tried and tasted way of identity politics ahead – an identity politics in UP that is riddled with caste and community equations that goes to any extent to appease voters – even if it means marching with dreaded gangsters like Mukhtar Ansari.

Before the 2012 assembly polls, the old monks of the SP top brass led by the SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav were all prepared to induct DP Yadav, a criminal-turned politician, into the party. But Akhilesh put his foot down declaring that since DP Yadav was a criminal, there was no place for him in his party.

If DP Yadav is a criminal whom Akhilesh Yadav cannot see in his party, Mukhtar Ansari is synonymous with terror. And even though Mukhtar’s brother Afzal Ansari said that the QED had nothing to do with Mukhtar, who is in jail in a murder case, no one was going to take it.

In and out of BSP, Mukhtar Ansari formed his own political outfit QED in 2010 after he was ousted from the BSP. He had almost won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi. BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi could win only with a thin margin of 17000 votes in the last rounds of the counting. He won the 2012 UP assembly polls from the Mau constituency. And this all in spite of him being a dreaded criminal.

WINNABILITY IS THE PRIORITY

To remain in the race and to maintain its winnability prospects, the SP is trying to consolidate its traditional base of voters – OBCs and Muslims – and the way to do that is – ‘making deals and poaching personalities’ – no matter what.

And all these have blessings of Mulayam Singh Yadav – even if Akhilesh doesn’t like Mukhtar Ansari or Amar Singh. Beni Prasad Verma and Mukhtar Ansari are influential caste leaders and they can effectively swing votes. And Amar Singh is a strategic taskmaster expert in political deals.

The SP needs such faces more than ever as it seems Akhilesh Yadav is no more a face for them who alone can win the next assembly polls for the party.

©SantoshChaubey

AKHILESH YADAV NO MORE A WINNING FACE FOR THE SP?

One can easily read this writing on the wall going by the developments in the recent months.

A sulking Akhilesh Yadav, the 42 year old chief-minister of Uttar Pradesh from the Samajwadi Party (SP) – amid the flurry of inductions into the party that Akhilesh is not comfortable with!

And a resurgent Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh’s uncle and a senior UP minister, who is seen not on good terms with Akhilesh ever since Mulayam promoted his son Akhilesh instead of him as the UP chief-ministerial face in 2011 – looks calling the shots in the party now!

On June 22, Swami Prasad Maurya, a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA and the Leader of Opposition of the party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly quit the BSP alleging Mayawati of being dictatorial and corrupt. He alleged that the OBC workers are ignored in the BSP and Mayawati is openly auctioning party tickets for the next assembly polls. Mayawati hit back and said Swami Prasad Maurya felt ‘suffocated’ in the BSP because she denied tickets to his son and daughter and that she herself was soon to expel Maurya from the BSP.

Yes, these types of ‘ins and outs’ from every political party are expected to pace up as the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls approach near. The UP assembly is completing its term in May 2017.

But what makes Maurya’s move significant and indicative of the SP’s old wing taking control of the things is the fact that the top SP leadership rushed to praise Swami Prasad Maurya soon after the BSP LoP quit his party. They said he was a good person and a respectable politician. Azam Khan went on to the extent to say that he wanted Maurya to join his party. It says a lot that who would have curated the move then. Later in the day, Swami met with Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav and it is expected that he will be inducted as a cabinet minister in the scheduled expansion of Akhilesh’s cabinet on June 27. Akhilesh was not so quick to react on the development though Akhilesh praised Maurya today.

Swami Prasad Maurya has been the BSP’s OBC face. He is an influential leader and can help maintaining the balance of the OBC votes in the favour of the SP which is trying to check the split in the OBC votes, an SP forte, in case of any threat presented by another influential OBC leader, Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister, and his party JD(U). So Akhilesh should welcome the move – as he was seen doing today.

But when seen in the context of other mergers and inductions in the party in the recent months, it tells us that the SP is now not at all convinced with the winnability of Akhilesh Yadav when the state goes to the polls next year.

Projections, surveys and political analyses have started predicting a lead to Mayawati’s BSP. In a television opinion poll in March 2016, she was shown winning 185 seats in the 403 members UP assembly along with 31% vote share, while the SP was shown reduced to just 80 seats with 23% votes. The projection showed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the second largest party with 120 seats and 24% votes.

Besides, Mayawati has also been cosying up with the Congress. Her decision to support Harish Rawat in the court monitored trust vote in the Uttarakhand assembly was a clear signal to the Muslim voters that she is against the BJP.

Her projected 31% vote share would make a formidable alliance when taken together with the Congress’s 12% that it got in the 2012 UP assembly polls.

That is more than enough for the party to sail through given the fact that the BJP swept UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with a 42% vote share. The BJP along with its ally Apna Dal won 73 out of 80 UP Lok Sabha seats then.

Then there is another pillar of the BSP’s social engineering – the Brahmin votebank. Brahmins constitute around 13% of voters in the state and were an important factor in ensuring the BSP’s emphatic victory in the 2007 UP assembly polls.

These developments – coupled with the sky-high anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government and a rock-bottom law and order scenario in the state, are giving the SP nightmares on how to solve the 2017 assembly polls riddle.

As a result, the party leadership, sans Akhilesh Yadav, has probably decided that it is now the tried and tasted way of identity politics ahead – an identity politics in UP that is riddled with caste and community equations that goes to any extent to appease voters – even if it means marching with dreaded gangsters like Mukhtar Ansari.

Before the 2012 assembly polls, the old monks of the SP top brass led by the SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav were all prepared to induct DP Yadav, a criminal-turned politician, into the party. But Akhilesh put his foot down declaring that since DP Yadav was a criminal, there was no place for him in his party. Akhilesh seemed to have a force of his own then – a young face, fresh energy, a corruption-free vision – that effectively spoke to voters – giving the SP 228 assembly seats in the poll. People saw that there was a person in the SP who could wash the taint of SP being a political party harbouring criminals.

After four years of Akhilesh Yadav’s in the Lucknow secretariat, all those hopes have gone. The force looks dissipated. Though there have been no allegations of individual corruption on Akhilesh, no one can deny that UP has parallel power centres run by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav and Azam khan – and Akhilesh is not in control. They all behave as if they are the chief ministers of the state. And they have their own way to do politics – the old SP way – setting and basing everything on caste equations.

We all saw the most visible testimony to this when on June 21, the Quami Ekta Dal (QED), the political party founded by Mukhtar Ansari, a notorious gangste and criminal-turned-politician, merged with the SP – in spite of the stiff opposition from Akhilesh Yadav. So displeased was Akhilesh with the merger that he sacked his senior minister Balram Yadav, the mediator behind the merger deal, and cancelled his all official engagements of the day. Later, Shivpal who is said to have masterminded the deal along with Amar Singh, another recent SP re-inductee into the party, tried to pacify Akhilesh by saying that the deal had blessings of Mulayam. Balram Yadav, too, reiterated this claim.

If DP Yadav is a criminal whom Akhilesh Yadav cannot see in his party, Mukhtar Ansari is synonymous with terror. And even though Mukhtar’s brother Afzal Ansari said that the QED had nothing to do with Mukhtar, who is in jail in a murder case, no one is going to take it. Now it is upto Akhilesh that how he justifies it to the electorate.

In and out of BSP, Mukhtar Ansari formed his own political outfit QED in 2010 after he was ousted from the BSP. He had almost won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi. BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi could win only with a thin margin of 17000 votes in the last rounds of the counting. He won the 2012 UP assembly polls from the Mau constituency. And this all in spite of him being a dreaded criminal.

Mukhtar Ansari is a minority face. The QED’s merger tells how desperate the SP is to attract the Muslim votebank – the votebank that supported it in the 2012 assembly polls. Now there is a clear chance that Muslims will again vote for Mayawati. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

And the SP top brass including Mulayam wants to win back it at any cost – even if it means antagonising Akhilesh! The QED has been merged with the SP to exploit Mukhtar Ansari’s appeal among the Muslim voters who see him as some ‘Robin Hood’ figure.

The first clear indication to which way the wind was going to blow in the SP came in April 2016 when Mulayam made Shivpal incharge of the SP’s UP unit, a position that effectively makes him the election incharge for the next polls. The responsibility was given to Akhilesh in 2012.

Next month, in May 2016, Amar Singh, an old SP hand and a Mulayam favourite, who was expelled from the party, and a person whom Akhilesh doesn’t like, was taken back in the SP fold. Amar Singh is seen as a master deal-broker in the political circles. The same month, another influential OBC leader and an old SP hand, Beni Prasad Verma, Mulayam’s friend-turned-foe, was re-inducted into the party after nine years. Both Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma are now Rajya Sabha members from the SP.

To remain in the race and to maintain its winnability prospects, the SP is trying to consolidate its traditional votebanks – OBCs and Muslims – and the way to do that is – ‘making deals and poaching personalities’ – no matter what.

And all these have blessings of Mulayam Singh Yadav – even if Akhilesh doesn’t like Mukhtar Ansari or Amar Singh. Beni Prasad Verma, Swami Prasad Maurya and Mukhtar Ansari are influential caste leaders and they can effectively swing votes. And Amar Singh is a strategic taskmaster expert in political deals. The SP needs them more than ever as Akhilesh Yadav is no more a face for them who can win the next assembly polls for the party.

©SantoshChaubey

YESTERDAY MUKHTAR, TODAY SWAMI PRASAD MAURYA: WHAT DOES IT SAY?

Yesterday, it was Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal.

Today, it is BSP’s Swami Prasad Maurya.

Quami Ekta Dal doesn’t exist anymore. Swami Prasad Maurya is not in BSP anymore.

In and out of BSP, Mukhtar Ansari formed his own political outfit Quami Ekta Dal in 2010 after he was ousted from BSP. He is in Agra Central Jail for the murder of BJP leader Krishnanad Rai. He had almost won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi. BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi could win only with a thin margin of 17000 votes. He is a dreaded gangster-turned politician.

Yesterday his political party of 2 MLAs, QED, merged with SP.

Going by the reputation that CM Akhilesh Yadav had built by saying no to another gangster-turned politician DP Yadav before the 2012 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, it was least expected, if not totally unexpected.

But it has happened, even if a miffed Akhilesh has expelled the leader behind this merger, Balram Yadav, from the party – even if it contradicts personal projections of Akhilesh Yadav – only months before the next assembly polls.

And today when senior SP leaders including Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav praised Swami Prasad Maurya after his exit from BSP, it became clear that the realization has dawned in the party that all is not well and it is facing a bleak future.

Maurya’s act, fueled by SP overtures, is another testimony to the fact that SP is staring at the possibility of an electoral defeat in the assembly polls next year after surveys have stated projecting a BSP win – given the high anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government and the worsening law and order situation in UP.

Seeing this, senior leaders and old monks of SP have started coming together to try everything else – other than development – setting caste and community equations before all – something that has long been a hallmark of SP politics (and UP politics) – to appeasement votebanks.

Mukhtar Ansari has been taken in for the minority (Muslim) votebank. Swami Prasad Maurya, the Leader of Opposition in the UP assembly till today, is seen as an influential OBC leader. Another influential OBC (Kurmi caste) leader and a party hopper, Beni Prasad Verma, is already back in SP fold and has been rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat.

And it seems just the beginning. To set caste equations straight, SP may go scouting for parties and leaders with influence in different votebanks, irrespective of their political history and criminal background.

Or Akhilesh Yadav is going to do some more ‘no to DP Yadav’ acts like the last time?

©SantoshChaubey