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.