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Lok Sabha polls: Is Mayawati’s game plan unnerving BJP, SP?

Apr 22, 2024 12:50 AM IST

Lok Sabha elections: Her selection of candidates as per caste equations of constituencies may force INDIA bloc and NDA to redraw their strategies.

LUCKNOW: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was considered a non-player after party chief Mayawati announced to go solo in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. But her strategy may create ripples in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) camps. Follow full coverage of Lok Sabha polls here.

BSP supremo Mayawati (HT file)
BSP supremo Mayawati (HT file)

The selection of candidates by Mayawati as per caste equations of constituencies has apparently forced the SP-led INDIA bloc and BJP-led NDA to redraw their strategies. This could not only make the contest triangular on UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, but on some seats, BSP candidates are likely to be in direct contest with either the NDA or INDIA bloc candidates.

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By playing the Rajput and Muslim cards in the poll campaign, Mayawati could also put BJP and SP in defensive mode. Addressing public meetings, she said: “The BJP is ignoring the Rajputs and the SP has sidelined the Muslim community in distribution of tickets. The BSP has given tickets to both the communities.”

To consolidate hold over the Dalit community, she sent her nephew and BSP national coordinator Akash Anand to launch campaign from Dalit dominated Nagina Lok Sabha seat. Akash also addressed meetings in other reserved seats, including Bulandshahr and Agra.

Also Read | Ghaziabad: As Mayawati steps in with rally, triangular contest on the cards

Nagina was one of the eight constituencies, along with Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, and Pilibhit, that went to the polls on April 19.

The contest for Mainpuri and Jaunpur Lok Sabha seats has become interesting after the BSP announced candidates on both seats. Earlier, it seemed that the contest was a cakewalk for SP candidate Dimple Yadav, but after BSP announced to replace party candidate Gulshan Dev Shakya with former MLA Shiv Prasad Yadav, the going will be tough for Dimple as Yadav may dent SP votes.

BJP candidate Kripa Shankar Singh was in a comfortable position even after the SP announced to field Babu Singh Kushwaha, former minister in the BSP government, from Jaunpur but the scenario may change after BSP’s announcement to field Srikala Reddy (wife of gangster-politician Dhananjay Singh) from the seat.

The ‘jumbo party’ has also thrown a spanner to SP national general secretary Shivpal Yadav’s plan to send his son Aditya Yadav to Lok Sabha from Budaun seat by fielding former MLA Muslim Khan. The BSP candidate is likely to dent into the SP’s Muslim support base. Whereas on the neighbouring Bareilly seat, BSP candidate Master Chhotelal Gangwar, a former MLA, could upset the applecart of BJP candidate Chhatrapal Gangwar.

Also Read | Don’t be ‘Namak Halal’ to Modi, Maya targets BJP on free ration

Mayawati is trying to cash in on the resentment among the Muslim community against the SP and anger among the Rajput community against the BJP. Addressing a public meeting in Moradabad, she said: “The SP has given ticket to a candidate belonging to Hindu community on the seat where majority of the voters are Muslims, whereas the BJP denied tickets to Rajput community candidates in west UP. The BSP has given tickets to candidates of both communities, according to their influence on the seats.”

The BSP chief expressed confidence in the Muslim community despite blaming them for the “worst defeat suffered by the party” in the 2022 assembly elections. In the Rohilkhand region of west UP, where Muslims account for 20- 40% of votes, she fielded Muslim candidates who enjoy influence over their community.

The BSP has fielded Majid Ali from Saharanpur LS seat, Dr Mujahid Hussain from Amroha, Mohammad Irfan Saifi from Moradabad, Zeeshan Khan from Rampur, Shaulat Ali from Sambhal, Anish Ahmed Khan from Pilibhit and Abid Ali from Aaonla seat. The BSP’s strategy has put the brakes on INDIA bloc’s effort to consolidate Muslim votes in the Rohilkhand region.

To cash in on the resentment among Rajput community against the BJP, Mayawati has fielded Rajendra Singh Solanki from Gautam Buddha Nagar, Sripal Singh from Kairana and Kuldeep Bhadouria from Kanpur. In a tactical move, the BSP fielded Nandkishore Pundhir of Rajput community from Ghaziabad seat. The BJP has replaced two-term MP General VK Singh (retd) with Atul Garg, party MLA from Ghaziabad seat.

After Boxer Vijender Singh joined the BJP, the BSP changed its candidate from Mathura seat, replacing Brahmin candidate Kamal Kant Upmanyu with Suresh Singh who belongs to OBC Jat community. The Congress was planning to field Vijendra Singh of the Jat community from Mathura seat.

Among the backward community, BSP has given ticket to Jat candidate Vijendra Singh from Bijnor seat to dent the support base of RLD candidate Chandan Chauhan.

Mayawati is also using the tested social engineering formula that brought the party to power in the 2007 assembly election by fielding Brahmin candidates. She has fielded Sachidanand Pandey aka Sachin from Ayodhya Lok Sabha seat. Pandey has defected to the party from the BJP. Another Brahmin candidate Dayashankar Mishra, former BJP district unit president, has been fielded from Basti against BJP candidate Harish Dwivedi.

BSP has fielded Ram Niwas Sharma from Fatehpur Sikri Lok Sabha seat, Rajesh Kumar Devedi from Akbarpur, Hitendra Kumar aka Bunty Upadhyay a former BJP leader from Aligarh , Ashok Kumar Pandey from Unnao and Manish Tripathi has been fielded from Mirzapur seat. the brahmin candidates are likely to dent the NDA vote on various seats.

Political observer SK Singh said the 2024 Lok Sabha election is crucial for the BSP after Mayawati decided to challenge the might of the NDA and INDIA bloc on her own strength. In the 2019 election, the BSP had bagged 10 seats and polled around 19% votes, but the party’s vote share dipped to 12% in the 2022 assembly elections and it won only one seat. The 2024 results will decide the future of Dalit politics and the BSP in UP, he added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Rajesh Kumar Singh is Assistant Editor, Hindustan Times at the political bureau in Lucknow. Along with covering politics, he covers government departments. He also travels to write human interest and investigative stories.

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