Why UP bypolls, not Maharashtra & Haryana verdict, threw up a bigger surprise for Mayawati
Akhilesh Yadav finally has reason to smile and not just because the Samajwadi Party won seats in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Opinion:By D.K. SINGH
If Akhilesh Yadav decided to order champagne for a pre-Diwali party last Thursday, you couldn’t grudge him that. He had reasons to celebrate the assembly election results in Maharashtra and Haryana and the bypolls in other states, including in Uttar Pradesh. Not because the Samajwadi Party won two seats in Maharashtra and three in UP bypolls – that’s nothing to write home about. The champagne was in order because of the tidings the poll verdict brought to Mayawati, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief and Akhilesh’s favourite ‘bua’ until the last Lok Sabha elections.
After the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won 10 Lok Sabha seats in May, she dumped her ‘nephew’ who had brushed aside his father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s objections and ditched ally Congress to enter into an alliance with her. Akhilesh was naïve not to foresee it. Her excuse: that the SP couldn’t transfer its votes to the BSP, resulting in their drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections.
The young SP chief might have been grinning from ear to ear last Thursday.
Loss after loss
The BSP scored a nil in Maharashtra and Haryana, securing 0.92 per cent and 4.14 per cent of the votes. Mayawati was always a spoiler at best in those states. Akhilesh would be happy about the bypoll results of the 11 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh – the BSP drew a blank in terms of seats, coming second on two, third on three seats, fourth on five and fifth in Pratapgarh where it fell behind even the AIMIM. Worse, Mayawati’s BSP secured fewer votes than even the Congress in six of these 11 constituencies. The SP also wrested the Jalalpur assembly seat from the BSP; the seat had fallen vacant after BSP MLA Ritesh Pandey won the Lok Sabha elections. Akhilesh must be itching to ask his bua: what do you have to say now?
Bypoll results are not a reliable indicator of winds of change. Remember the bypolls ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections—Gorakhpur, Phulpur…? They seemed to spell doom for the BJP, didn’t they? Eight seats out of 11 for the BJP in the latest UP bypolls is, therefore, not necessarily a reflection of the happiness index in the Yogi Adityanath regime.
But the results fit in a pattern when it comes to Mayawati’s party. The BSP’s vote share has been on a continuous slide since its victory in the 2007 assembly elections—30.43 per cent votes in 2007, 25.91 per cent in 2012, and 22.23 per cent in 2017 when the party was reduced to 19 MLAs in the 403-member assembly.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BSP secured 20 per cent votes in UP but drew a blank in terms of seats. In 2019, it got 10 Lok Sabha seats, thanks to its alliance with the SP. Without the SP now, the BSP is struggling again as voters continue to desert Mayawati. In Ghosi assembly seat, for instance, the BSP got nearly 51,000 votes in the bypoll – about 30,000 less than what it had got in 2017 assembly elections. In Balha, a reserved constituency, the BSP got about 31,000 votes in the bypoll, 26,000 less than its 2017 figure.
Waiting for Godot
So, why is Mayawati losing the plot? The answer has been obvious for quite some time. Since 1995, when she became the chief minister— a chair she occupied two times subsequently — Dalits, the community she claims to represent, had been reposing their faith in her, only to see her use them for her personal and political objectives.
Disillusioned with the Congress that ruled the state till 1989 – except for brief interludes – and wary of the muscle-flexing Yadavs of the SP and the Banias and Brahmins of the BJP, the Dalits had no option but to back Mayawati. Even in her ostentatious displays of wealth, they tried to see their empowerment. When she and her party members were charged with graft, they wanted to believe it was political vendetta directed against them. But it couldn’t go on forever. A section of them was, therefore, willing to respond to the BJP’s outreach ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 assembly election.
Yogi Adityanath’s muscular government may have disappointed them, but the BSP members will be looking for another alternative. Some may be willing to even try out the Congress again. Most of them keep looking for another Dalit leader who doesn’t use them as a stepping stone. It has been like waiting for Godot though. There have been many leaders but they have all flattered to deceive.
Chandrashekhar Azad of the Bhim Army is ready to fight it out on the streets and go to jail. He threatens to “repeat Bhima-Koregaon (violence)”. When a Ravidas temple was demolished in Delhi, Mayawati vented out her fury on Twitter, distancing her party from the protests, even as Azad was arrested for allegedly ‘rioting’ over the issue. He got out of Tihar jail on bail last week. No wonder Azad has got the Dalits curious about him. They throng his meetings not just in UP, but also in Maharashtra.
Mayawati can only criticise him. She calls him a BJP ‘mole’. But she can’t do what he does to draw Dalits’ attention— join them in street protests. She is more comfortable in the corridors of power where she sets the terms of her engagement. But she is a Dalit empress who must command the loyalty of her subjects. None of them should question her words, actions or decisions. She has built a cocoon house for herself in which there is no entry for people who can inform her how PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have re-written the art and science of politics, and how her politics is getting outdated.
Hope someone informed her about the results of the UP bypolls last week.
Courtesy: The Print