With its social engineering of bringing together Dalits and upper castes facing heat from a resurgent BJP, the BSP has put its focus on 17 reserved constituencies, where largest chunk of party’s core base — Dalits — are concentrated.
According to the list of candidates declared by chief Mayawati Thursday, the party has decided to field candidates belonging to Chamar-Jatav Dalit sub-caste on 10 seats, most of them in western UP. Candidates from Pasi sub-caste have been selected on six seats and one candidate is from Kashyap community.
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the BSP had fielded 13 candidates from Chamar-Jatav sub-caste, which is also Mayawati’s caste, and four Pasis on SC seats. The increase in the Pasi candidates is an attempt by the BSP to increase its vote share.
The BSP could win only two reserved seats — Lalganj and Misrikh — in the last LS polls. While, the Samajwadi Party, which had fielded all candidates from non-Chamar scheduled castes like Pasi, Dhobi, Kori and Valmiki, won 10 reserved seats as it could add its OBC and Muslim support to candidates’ Dalit supporters, two seats each went to the Congress and the BJP while one was won by the RLD.
The party which has placed most of its electoral prospects on its Dalit-Muslim and Dalit-Brahmin combination has tried to woo Muslim and Brahmin voters at reserved seats. Party’s Brahmin face Satish Chandra Misra has held the public meetings in each of these constituencies and even visited some of them twice in order to attract the Brahmins vote for BSP candidates in these seats. Party’s Muslim face Naseemuddin Siddiqui has also held his public meetings in all these reserved constituencies.
BSP MLC Athar Khan who is overseeing campaign of party in these reserved seats, said their main focus is at attracting non-Dalit communities in these seats as party candidates on these seats are left with their base vote as candidates are also Dalits on these seats.
As a strategy, the party has this time encircled most of these SC seats with candidates from either Brahmin or Muslim community candidates thus creating an atmosphere where the voters of these communities could be wooed to vote for the BSP’s SC candidate instead of going other parties. “We have a SC candidate in Jalaun. But on the adjoining Jhansi, Akbarpur and Hamirpur, all candidates are Brahmins,” a party leader cited as example.
This time, the party is optimistic about improving its performance in these seats as its candidates were runner ups at 13 of these 17 seats. A few like Jalaun and Agra were lost by small margins of just about 10,000 votes.
The party is pinning its hopes on two factors. One that the Congress which often ate into the party’s Dalit votes including Chamar-Jatavs, appears weak. And, the BJP which like the SP has also fielded candidates from non-Chamar SCs like Valmikis, Khatiks, Koris and Pasis, will cut into the latter’s votes.