BSP chief Mayawati’s decision to resign from the Rajya Sabha comes at a time when her detractors and former BSP leaders are making efforts to put up a united front against her, and Dalit activists are trying to find an alternative to her politics.
On July 15, about 90 former BSP leaders including Suresh Mane, Pramod Kureel and BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s brother Dalbara Singh attended a meeting called by former BSP general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui and discussed their coming together to provide an alternative to the BSP. Two other meetings were organised by Kureel in April in Delhi and by Mane in June in Nagpur, where former BSP leaders discussed their strategy to emerge as an alternative to the BSP.
“We will meet again on August 6 in Delhi to fix our agenda and start the work. We are uniting all non-Congress and non-BJP leaders. Mayawati’s chapter is closed. She has developed comfort zones. She has no agenda. She tries to become a leader of ‘sarvajan’ when in power but calls herself a Dalit’s daughter when under attack,” said Mane, who was BSP’s in-charge for south India before being expelled by Mayawati in 2015. He later founded the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party.
Many leaders left the BSP after the party failed to win even a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The party’s poor performance in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, when it could win only 19 seats, led to further desertions and expulsions, including that of Siddiqui —- a close aide of Mayawati.
The former BSP leaders now want Kanshi Ram’s Bahujan agenda back in focus, so that issues of Dalits, tribals, other backward classes and minorities remain at the forefront.
“If Mayawati is resigning from the Rajya Sabha, why should she not resign as party president for destroying the Bahujan Mission by associating with Brahminism?” said Kureel, a former MP who has been running a campaign to oust Mayawati. He has also organised public meetings of Kanshi Ram’s sister Swaran Kaur, during which Mayawati was targeted for “usurping” the Bahujan movement of Kanshi Ram.
Lalji Prasad Nirmal, president of Ambedkar Mahasabha, said Mayawati’s resignation was “an attempt to garner Dalits’ sympathy” but “a large section of Dalits is no more attached to her and her revival is very difficult”. This is because she went against the principles of Kanshi Ram and failed to provide “complete change” that the Dalits were expecting, he added.
“Kanshi Ram said people should get representation according the numerical strength of their caste but she abandoned this formula. Only a few castes participated in her politics. She announced that her successor would be from her own caste. Now she has appointed her brother as party vice-president,” said Nirmal.
“There are no wings for students or youths or women in the party. She promoted a new casteism through Bhaichara committees. Dalits failed to get a share of land and other resources, and are left with only reservation in politics and government jobs. There is a vacuum and, in time, there will be an alternative.”
Mayawati has called a meeting of party leaders in Delhi on Sunday to discuss the BSP strategy. UP BSP president Ram Achal Rajbhar said her resignation was not “planned” and she had to do so “when ruling party members started disrupting her speech only after she had spoken for two minutes and nine seconds”.
“She said what was the point of being in the House if she could not raise the issues of her community. She has called a meeting of all party leaders from UP in Delhi on July 23,” he said.