In a twist to the bypolls to the 11 Assembly and one Lok Sabha seats on September 13 in Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati Sunday said her party will chose and support Independent candidates on each seat. While, the BSP is not contesting the bypolls, Congress, BJP and Samajwadi Party are in the fray.
Addressing a meeting of party’s senior leaders, office-bearers and workers at BSP state headquarters here, Mayawati said she took the decision after “our people asked me” who they should vote for in the bypolls.
“You will not vote for any of the political parties. You should vote for the Independent candidates who have different symbols. All our supporters should vote for one such candidate in each byelection,” she said and added that no BSP leader will share stage with these candidates or endorse them publicly, and the decision will be conveyed only to party workers.
Sources said Mayawati has assigned the task of choosing these Independent candidates to party general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Swami Prasad Maurya and state president Ram Achal Rajbhar after consultation with the party’s local Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha constituency units.
Party sources said while the workers wanted a clarification about which candidate they should support, there was also a possibility of party supporters drifting towards the BJP in the current political situation in the state.
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The results of bypolls in neighbouring Uttarakhand and Bihar showed no continuation of largescale support for the BJP, enjoyed by the party in Lok Sabha elections. However, the fate of UP bypolls largely depends on the support of Dalit voters, who appear to have emerged as the deciding factor in absence of the BSP in the contest.
Of the 12 Assembly seats where bypolls are due namely Rohaniya, Noida, Bijnor, Sirathu, Balha, Fatehpur, Thakurdwara, Charkhari, Saharanpur Nagar, Lucknow East, and Nighasan, the BSP had stood second on first seven seats in 2012. In Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, the BSP had stood at third place with 1,42,833 votes.
In BSP’s absence, BJP and SP are trying to woo the Dalit voters. It is for this reason that the SP has fielded a Dalit, Vachaspati Pasi, from Sirathu, which is a general seat.
While Jatav Dalits have been traditional BSP supporters, Pasi Dalits supported the BJP or SP in last two decades. BJP has been attempting to woo Jatavs, who are unlikely to support the SP, in its fold in western UP where communal riots have strained Dalit-Muslim relations.
In her nearly two hour long address, Mayawati spent most of her time attacking the BJP and several times cautioned Dalits to keep away from saffron party’s Hindutva agenda. She said it were Dalits and backward classes who are being incited by BJP to fight with Muslims in riots.
“This has been the conspiracy of Congress for long and this is the strategy of BJP as both these parties never make upper castes fight in riots but incite Dalits and backward classes to indulge in violence,” Mayawati said, asking the party workers to make sure that Dalits do not take part in communal violence and continue bhaichara with Muslims.
In a desperate appeal to party’s core vote base, the former CM said if Dalits continued to get swayed by BJP’s calling them Hindus, it will be difficult for the BSP to return to power. She said, in that case, BJP which is dreaming of forming its government in UP, will make the condition of Dalits like it was in ancient times when they were victimised and referred as shudras.
She said the BJP leaders are also spreading the rumours of central government giving Bharat Ratna to BSP founder Kanshi Ram to lure the votes of Dalits, while the previous NDA government had sent the CBI to conduct a raid at her house and the agency had seized the money kept for the treatment of ailing Kanshi Ram.