In projecting second place for the BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah has two objectives, BJP sources say: keep Dalits happy so that the vote-bank can be tapped later, and distract a chunk of Muslim votes away from the SP and the Congress.
Amit Shah made the projection during an Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express Tuesday, while giving the BJP 50 to 55. It is the second time he has placed the BSP second, the first being on March 3 in Lucknow.
A BJP leader explained: “Dalits react strongly, and want to see Mayawati and the BSP rising. The BJP wants to give a message to Dalits that it does not want the BSP decimated.” Besides, the statement keeps the door open for BSP support, however unlikely, in the Lok Sabha as well as after the 2017 assembly polls.
In his rallies between October 19 and March 2, Narendra Modi had not targeted the BSP and focused only on the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. In campaign season later, he did target the BSP in generic terms — “SABKA (SP, BSP, Congress) safaya ho jayega” — but never specifically attacked Mayawati.
“If Dalit voters are happy, the BJP may also get their support in 2017. We appear to have got their votes in some seats already,” said another BJP leader.
A leader explained the other reason: “The BJP does not want Muslim votes to consolidate with the SP or the Congress and feels that if it projects the BSP, many Muslims will drift away from those two.”
From Mayawati’s point of view, however, getting the Muslim vote would mean consolidating them in her favour: she constantly appealed to Muslims not to get divided. She has fielded 19 Muslims.
BJP state vice-president Shiv Pratap Shukla agreed that the BSP was the main opponent in various seats of eastern UP, including Maharajganj, Deoria, Lalganj, Domariyaganj and Ghosi.