Building the ‘bahujan’

Mayawati fears that if the BSP is portrayed as an exclusively Dalit party, she might lose the votes of other castes

Written by Badri Narayan | Updated: January 11, 2017 4:38 am
Uttar Pradesh, UP elections, UP polls, Samajwadi Party, SP infighting, SP rift, BJP-Congress, Akhilesh-Mulayam, BSP, state elections, India news, Indian Express BSP chief Mayawati  (Source: File)

The dates of the Vidhan Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh have been announced. All the parties are readying themselves for the upcoming elections. The BJP and Congress will soon announce their list of candidates. The Samajwadi Party has already released two sets of lists — one comprises candidates belonging to Akhilesh’s group and the second list has names of candidates in the Mulayam faction. A majority of the candidates are common to both the lists, the tussle is only over a few seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had begun preparing the list of its candidates soon after the 2014 general elections. The party had also announced the names of most of its candidates some time ago; these candidates are already active in their respective constituencies.

Mayawati categorised her party’s candidates on the basis of caste and religious identity by clearly stating her social engineering strategy. In a press conference, she stated that out of the 403 assembly seats, the SC candidates, Muslim community, OBCs and savarna candidates have been allotted 87, 97, 106 and 113 seats respectively. An analysis of her strategy reveals that the BSP has given the most number of tickets to Muslim candidates, compared to the other parties. During the 2012 elections, the BSP had given tickets to only 85 Muslim candidates. This time the number has increased by 12. This provides a clear picture: The Dalit-Muslim alliance forms the base of Mayawati’s social engineering strategy in the forthcoming elections. Though there are 85 reserved seats for the Dalits in UP, they also have been given two more tickets in the current elections. The BSP has faith in its Dalit base, with which it wants to associate the votes of the Muslim groups.

The BSP has given tickets to 106 OBC castes, while in the 2012 elections it had given tickets to 113 OBC candidates. This time the tickets to savarna candidates have been reduced to 113 from 117 tickets in 2012. The data shows that the party has increased the tickets only of the Muslim candidates and that there has been a reduction in the tickets to other social groups.

In 2012, the BSP gave tickets to 74 Brahmin candidates, illustrating its faith in the social engineering strategy of a Dalit-Brahmin alliance. The fact that the number of Brahmin candidates in the upcoming elections has been reduced to 66 clearly shows that Mayawati is now focusing on the Dalit-Muslim alliance. In addition, during her numerous rallies and meetings, Mayawati has also appealed to Muslim groups to vote in favour of the BSP.

The BSP holds the view that the creation of a sarvajan society can be made possible only by providing political participation to all its castes. When Mayawati and the BSP talk about society, it seems like a confederation of castes. In fact, she adds “society” as a suffix to all the caste names, such as Brahmin society, Dalit society etc. It is evident that Indian society is divided on caste and religious lines. We just have to watch how the BSP and other parties respond to the recently passed verdict of the Supreme Court on not using caste and religion to garner votes during elections.

Kanshi Ram was of the view that casteism can be eradicated from society only when people make use of their caste. Mayawati, influenced by his ideology, walked on the path set by Kanshi Ram. She wants to prove that the BSP is not merely a party of the Dalits. It is interested in providing political rights and representation to all castes. Mayawati fears that if the BSP is portrayed as an exclusively Dalit party, she might lose the votes of other castes.

While declaring the list of its candidates for the 2017 assembly elections, Mayawati said, once again, that the BSP is a sarvajan party and not a caste-based outfit. Its antagonists accuse it of being casteist so that the groups other than Dalits do not associate with it. We have to see how much success Mayawati attains in her strategy of forging a Dalit-Muslim alliance.

Some leaders of Muslim groups are supportive of the SP and form a large base for the party. However, due to the Muzaffarnagar riots and internal clashes, these Muslim groups are somewhat disenchanted with the SP and are showing their support for the BSP. The BSP also laid emphasis on the Muslim community in its bhaichara meetings. In the last few months, the BSP is also rapidly organising the Backward Classes in bhaichara meetings at the block level.

Dalits and Muslims are associated with the BSP, but it will benefit the party if it can also attract Backward and savarna votes. The next two months will decide the form of this social and caste-based polarisation. The days to come will prove how successful Mayawati has been in her social engineering policy.

Narayan is a social scientist and author. His latest book, ‘Fractured Tales: Invisibles in Indian Democracy’, is published by Oxford University Press

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  1. B
    Bhopra
    Jan 11, 2017 at 5:35 am
    People need change and relief from Modi Government who cares for rich and kill poors in ATM/Bank Queues. Never Vote those already in power to save the country from continous loot. Power corrupts. And absolute power the one which BJP has corrupts Totally and kills too because of Demonetisation.
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    1. H
      Haradhan Mandal
      Jan 11, 2017 at 5:08 am
      Post blocked!
      Reply
      1. H
        Haradhan Mandal
        Jan 11, 2017 at 12:28 pm
        So far people (of other societies - that is, the castes, specially the upper castes thru Congress and BJP now) have exploited the Dalit , Tribal and Muslim votes. It is the credit of Mayawati that she was able to stop that exploitation of Dalit votes in UP. lt;br/gt;But the trend continues elsewhere and for Tribal and Muslim votes all over India.
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        1. K
          Kumarpushp
          Jan 16, 2017 at 10:41 am
          120 million dalits should join with 120 million muslims to finish the BJP and there umbilical links.
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          1. T
            Tinku
            Jan 11, 2017 at 2:15 am
            Mayawati will b the CM as per current trend.
            Reply
            1. K
              K SHESHU
              Jan 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm
              The the right wing hate speeches against Muslim community might have a major factor in mayawati stretegy. She is fostering dalit Muslim unity to challenge the opposition
              Reply
              1. A
                Anand
                Jan 11, 2017 at 5:13 am
                2014 awaits BSP....championing dalits cause and looting money and laundering it her brother's accounts...
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                1. B
                  Boba
                  Jan 11, 2017 at 5:30 am
                  But BJP Bhakts are enemies of both Dalits and Muslims. You remember Dalit Floggings in Gujarat, Muslims Lynching and Gujarat Macre, Muzaffarnagar Riots.
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                  1. B
                    Boba
                    Jan 11, 2017 at 4:30 am
                    Mayawati may win around 375 to 400 Seats. Result will be similar to Delhi Election where all BJP candidates except 3 lost deposits including their Chief Minister Candidate Kiran Bedi. Dalits and Minorities, mainly muslims have always suffered most under BJP rule since 70 years. Gujarat Macre in 2002 under Modi is wake up call. Never ever Vote again for those in power already. Change is best for State and Country.
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                    1. D
                      Dhaval Trivedi
                      Jan 11, 2017 at 7:27 am
                      Instead of discussing on the development or the electricity or job creation, every party and even journalists are also focusing on the caste and religion based selection of the candidates. UP needs to be discussion on the core issue instead of only caste and religion. Journalism being responsible, should start first and provide the party wise candidates report card on the base of the social impact they have achieved during their public life.
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                      1. G
                        Ghulam Muhammed
                        Jan 11, 2017 at 4:01 am
                        Mayawati's award of maximum tickets to Muslims or even success of maximum seats in the UP embly election would not translate into any empowerment of Muslims as long as Mayawati is heading the party and any government she forms. Muslims are aware how Mayawati is capable of making deals with BJP to the detriment or even humiliation of Muslims and they may not be fully convinced of Mayawati's secular credentials to vote enm for her.
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                        1. H
                          Harsh
                          Jan 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm
                          There is no need to prove and it is really unfair to call it a Dalit's party as it has given around 80% election tickets to Non-Dalit. If we know who got the real benefits of its last regime then it will appear childish to call it Dalit party. A capitalist cannot be a socialist and without socialism one cannot up-lift the poor. As in capitalism we can talk only well about poor, but we cannot do any goods to poor because legally it is impossible. It was the effect of socialism that has put mobile in even beggar's pocket, but capitalism will make now even beggar pocket-less forget about Dalit.
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                            kranti
                            Jan 11, 2017 at 8:43 am
                            Another Fascist thug like modi and RSS.
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              kranti
                              Jan 11, 2017 at 8:40 am
                              You fascist thug get lost.
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Sankaran Krishnan
                                Jan 11, 2017 at 4:09 am
                                Mayawati's BSP will suffer one of its worst defeats in the state of UP and voters of UP will reject her and her BSP out rightly and already the days are started for the count down !!!
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                                1. C
                                  chandan
                                  Jan 12, 2017 at 2:42 pm
                                  जब राम मंदिर का माा है तो सारे OBC, SBC, BC, MBC, NT, VJNT, SC, ST "हिन्दू" होते है ; लेकिन जब इन्ही OBC, SBC, BC, MBC, NT, VJNT, SC, ST को संवैधानिक "प्रतिनिधित्व " की बात आती है तो ब्राह्मणवादी - ब्राह्मणवादी होते है और OBC, SBC, BC, MBC, NT, VJNT, SC, ST लोग OBC, SBC, BC, MBC, NT, VJNT, SC, ST होते है ! तब ये सारे OBC, SBC, BC, MBC, NT, VJNT, SC, ST ( बहुजन) " हिन्दू " नहीं होते .तो बहुजन की बात करेगा वोह "जातिवादी"; और ब्राह्मणवाद की बात करेगा वोह " राष्ट्रवादी " !
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                                  1. C
                                    chandan
                                    Jan 12, 2017 at 3:03 pm
                                    ज्यादातर समय ब्राह्मणवादी सरकारे थी .थोड़े समय के लिए BSP रही है ...राज्य के पिछड़ेपन के लिए जिम्मेदार ब्राह्मणवादी सरकारे है ...और आज जहा भी भा ज पा की सरकारे है वहा रोजगार, आरोग्य, शिक्षा, महिला उत्पीडन, भ्रष्टाचार ,जातिवाद, बढ रहे है ...यही हाल भारत का है ...देश का GDP दो प्रतिशत बढाने के लिए १० साल जूझना पड़ता है...आज भा जपा ने देश को ३ सालो में १० साल पीछे धकेला है ...
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                                    1. S
                                      shiravanthe sridhar
                                      Jan 11, 2017 at 5:48 am
                                      And certainly not yours ic vicious and anti national .
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        shiravanthe sridhar
                                        Jan 11, 2017 at 5:45 am
                                        Boba is talking like Rahul baba,like him he should go-to special school meant for special children.
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                                          shiravanthe sridhar
                                          Jan 11, 2017 at 5:43 am
                                          This badri is chronic BJP hater,so he goes to any length to defend any body on this earth even Lalu Yadav ,so Maya various is an angel to this JNU/DU leftist libtard.
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                                            Ram
                                            Jan 11, 2017 at 8:04 am
                                            Ask stani dalits about the way muslims treat them when muslims become majority to open your eyes! Here after enjoying reservation and other benefits bestowed by same society you speak like this!
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