ON SATURDAY, BSP chief Mayawati made it clear that the tie-up with the Samajwadi Party would continue until 2019. Her assertion came after the SP-BSP combination, which had brought the SP bypoll victories in two Lok Sabha seats, subsequently failed to send a BSP candidate to Rajya Sabha.
The recognition of the need to continue the alliance despite the Rajya Sabha setback, BSP sources said, is the result of calculations manner keeping in mind the “social engineering formula” of party founder Kanshiram.
“The BSP is of the view that if the SP and the BSP could unite, they can target 43 per cent of the voters in Uttar Pradesh, a count that would be enough to defeat the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” a senior BSP leader told The Indian Express. In 2014, when the BJP won 71 seats out of 80 in UP, its vote share was 42.6% while the SP (19.8%) and BSP (22.3%) took 42.1% between them.
An estimated 14% of UP’s voters are Jatavs, considered a BSP constituency, 20% are Muslims who often divide their votes among the SP, the BSP and the Congress, while some 9% are Yadavs, considered the SP vote-bank. When non-Jatavs (6%) are included, the Dalit population is around 20%. The BSP leader noted that these 6% have traditionally fluctuated between the BJP and the Congress.
“If the 20% Muslims and 14% Jatav Dalits unite with the SP’s strong bank of Yadavs, who are around 9%, that adds up to 43% of the votes of the state. That is enough to defeat the BJP in 2019 and revive both the SP and the BSP who performed poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and then in the 2017 assembly elections,” said a BSP leader.
To counter the BJP’s idea of consolidating non-Jatav Dalits and non-Yadav backward groups, the BSP is discussing a separate strategy. “We plan to field candidates from amo9ng non-Jatav Dalits, non-Yadav OBCs and upper castes such as Brahmins. Our candidates could attract votes from their own castes. With the core support vote base of Jatavs, Yadav and Muslims, the SP-BSP alliance will be able to challenge the BJP,” said the BSP leader.
An SP leader said. “In the SP, only party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav has the ability to transfer the majority of Yadav votes because of the following he commands among Yadavs. But his son Akhilesh too holds command on Yadav voters in his capacity of party president. Now, when Mulayam and all family members attended the dinner that Akhilesh hosted for MLAs ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, it sent out as message that Akhilesh has the blessings of Mulayam and that could help Akhilesh in convincing Yadav voters to support BSP candidates, if needed.”
In 2014, the Muslim vote was divided between the SP and the BSP in six Lok Sabha seats where both parties had fielded Muslim candidates. Had their votes been combined, the two parties would have polled an average 5.18 lakh votes in these six seats.
SP leaders, meanwhile, are working on their own social engineering. UP Legislative Council member Udaiveer Singh said, “Social calculations have to be be done. In past elections, the BJP had alleged that particular castes in SP and BSP regimes encroached on the share [of benefits] of other backward castes and Dalits, but the BJP itself did nothing for these castes. We will unite all these forces for social justice in 2019, and will add to that the agenda of development.”
SP spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari said, “This is not the time for calculating votes. But in the larger prospective, all sections including Dalits, Muslims, backward groups and people from different classes like youth and farmers are uniting against the BJP.”