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 choose and support Independent candidates on each seat. The BSP is not contesting the bypolls.
Addressing a meeting of party’s senior leaders, office-bearers and workers at the 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.
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.
In the absence of the BSP, the BJP and the SP are trying to woo 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 the SP in the last two decades. The 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 cautioned Dalits to keep away from saffron party’s Hindutva agenda. She said it were Dalits and backward classes who were incited by the BJP to fight with Muslims in riots. “This has been the conspiracy of the Congress for long and this is the strategy of the BJP as both these parties never make upper castes fight in riots but incite Dalits and backward classes to indulge in violence.”
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.