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Youth and women, social media, eye on Ayodhya: BSP goes all out for UP polls

Pushed to the electoral margins over the last decade, Mayawati’s BSP is going all out this time with a revamped approach in the run-up to the UP assembly elections that goes beyond its previous pre-poll initiatives and Dalit vote base.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
Updated: October 26, 2021 4:54:48 am
BSP Chief Mayawati

Outreach events targeting youth and women, a rising social media presence, spotlight on leaders other than the party chief, an eye on Ayodhya — and a “promise” to learn from the past.

Pushed to the electoral margins over the last decade, Mayawati’s BSP is going all out this time with a revamped approach in the run-up to the UP assembly elections that goes beyond its previous pre-poll initiatives and Dalit vote base.

Several of its new initiatives are being steered personally by the party’s top tier, including national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP S C Mishra and his family members.

Last month, Mishra’s son Kapil Mishra addressed meetings under the ‘BSP Yuva Samvad’ programme that aims to engage directly with youth. At these meetings, Kapil Mishra spoke about the work done by Mayawati-led state governments even as representatives from different districts were allowed to share their opinions.

Mishra’s wife Kalpana has been holding meetings under “Prabudha Mahila Vichar Ghosthi” and “BSP Mahila Sammelan” initiatives for interaction with women’s groups from Brahmin and Dalit communities.

Mishra, meanwhile, has been pushing the party’s established Dalit-Brahmin formulation — both communities together have a 36 per cent vote share — with meetings that stress on “bhaichara (brotherhood)” between the two. This time, there is a new slogan, too: “Jai Bhim, Jai Bharat, Jai Parshuram”.

Over the past three years, beginning with the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the party has also been increasing its social media presence.

Mayawati created a Twitter account in 2018. Misra joined Twitter in July this year and has started live streaming meetings of “Prabuddha Varg Vishal Ghosthi”, a forum that primarily addresses Brahmins, on Facebook.

Moreover, in a key departure from the past when leaders were discouraged from speaking to the media, the party has appointed spokespersons. Some of its recent videos show national coordinator Akash Anand meeting party leaders in Bhopal.

“The BSP is connecting with every section of society, including the youth, through social media. But the party is also working on ground,” BSP spokesperson Faizan Khan said.

And in an image makeover exercise, Mayawati appeared to address criticism from the past about public money being spent on parks, memorials and statues of herself by promising at a recent party event that she would focus only on the state’s development.

She had also announced that the party will not give poll tickets to “bahubalis (strongmen)” and went on to deny a ticket to five-term MLA and gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari. Before the 2017 Assembly polls, Mayawati had inducted Ansari and his family members in the party, and given them tickets. Ansari’s eldest brother Sibgatulla recently joined the SP.

“If the Election Commission has allowed somebody to contest elections, Behenji (Mayawati) has given that individual a chance but only when that person promises to not indulge in any unlawful activity in future,” Khan, the spokesperson, said.

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