Ahead of UP polls, Mayawati sees an opportunity in wooing SP and Cong’s Muslim base

Mayawati didn’t look confident in her position and tried to project herself as the saviour of the Muslim community claiming that voting for either the Congress or the SP will benefit the BJP.

Written by Kanishka Singh | Updated: October 10, 2016 4:09 pm
mayawati, muslim votes, muslims in up, samajwadi party, sp, bsp, bjp, congress, up polls, up elections, polls 2017, assembly elections 2017, india news BSP supremo Mayawati addresses party workers at a function on the death anniversary of party-founder Kanshi Ram in Lucknow on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

BSP chief Mayawati has gone all out to woo the Muslim community for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections slated to take place next year. Mayawati is looking to forge a strong Dalit-Muslim combination and at a rally on Sunday the former chief minister urged the Muslim community to not waste its votes on the Samajwadi Party as it will only benefit the BJP.

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Mayawati didn’t look confident in her position and tried to project herself as the saviour of the Muslim community claiming that voting for either the Congress or the SP will benefit the BJP. Speaking at BSP founder and Dalit leader Kanshi Ram’s anniversary in Lucknow, Mayawati looked aggressive as well as uncomfortable with the prospect of BJP’s challenge and the buzz caused by Rahul Gandhi’s Kisan Yatra and the off chance that it might actually divide votes away from the BSP working to the BJP’s favour.

The runup to the elections has revealed a new dynamic which turns it from a usual two-way fight between the BSP and the SP. The BJP gained significant ground during the Lok Sabha elections and the division of the Muslim votes worked to their benefit. The party has managed to hold on to a fair share of that vote base and looks to offer a good fight.

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The SP has suffered massive anti-incumbency and the Muslim community has tilted away from it. Mayawati, widely pipped to be the frontrunner in this electoral run, has moved to clinch this opportunity. Adding to this, the infighting in the party between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and state party chief and his uncle Shivpal Yadav has intimidated voters. The loyal Yadavs are left confused on where to pledge their loyalty and SP stands on shaky grounds.

Meanwhile, a reinvigorated Congress has surprised everyone. Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Kisan Yatra from Deoria to Delhi through 141 of the 407 Assembly constituencies has caused a flutter in the electoral front. Rahul Gandhi leads with a renewed experimental modernist spirit in the party’s vanguard in a bid to woo the upper castes and farming community.

The impact of his election trail was witnessed in the fact that Mayawati, who until recently disregarded Congress shunning it from conversation as inconsequential players, dedicated a significant amount of time in her election speech attacking the Congress. The BSP chief knows that the farming community has kept Congress in power in the country over half a century. Denouncing UPA’s farmer loan waivers, she attempted to play down each and every achievement that the Gandhi scion may cite to gain the farming community’s support.

Sonia Gandhi has, for two decades, enjoyed the support of the Muslim community in UP with her soft secularism and Rahul may look to woo them as well, especially in the light of increased religious violence by ‘gau rakshaks’. Claiming the support of the Muslim community is vital to swinging electoral decisions in UP and the state is now a ring clearly cut out for communal politics.

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