BSP chief Mayawati on Tuesday announced that her party will field 97 Muslims (a dozen more than in 2012 and the highest ever in its history) along with 113 candidates from upper castes, 106 candidates from backward castes and 87 Dalits in the upcoming Assembly elections, stressing that her party was not partial to scheduled castes, but was open to all sections of society. Reiterating that BSP will have no electoral alliance or understanding with any other party, Mayawati said she will release the names of the candidates once the election dates are announced.
“Only those who are weak need alliances. BSP sees the possibility of forming its absolute majority government,” said the former chief minister. Stating that the Samajwadi Party’s Yadav vote base had been divided between Shivpal and Akhilesh camps, she iterated that Muslims should not waste their votes on SP or Congress, adding that the latter was on “oxygen support” in UP. She said the split in Muslim votes will “only benefit the BJP” and that is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention the Yadav family feud during his rally in Lucknow on Monday.
“SP’s Yadav vote bank is only 5 to 6 per cent and it plays a decisive role only on 60 to 70 seats. The Dalits have their votes in all 403 Assembly seats and in every seat their numbers are not less than 50,000. In some seats it is even 1 lakh. BSP is getting the votes of Dalits who are 22 per cent overall. In Muslim-dominated areas, votes of only Muslims and Dalits will lead BSP candidate to victory if the minority community’s votes are not split,” she said. In reply to a question about the Supreme Court banning the use of caste or religion to seek votes, she said she welcomed the apex court’s decision.
With a marked difference in her party’s strategy of weaving winnable caste combinations, Mayawati has reduced the number of Brahmin candidates from 74 in 2012 to 66 this time. The number of backward caste candidates has also been reduced from 113 in 2012 to 106. The party has chosen 36 “Kshatriya” candidates, three more than last time, and 11 candidates belong to “Kayastha, Vaishya and Punjabi” castes.
Launching another attack on the BJP, Mayawati claimed that the prime minister had realised that BJP was not going to win the elections, and hence had said that “this election is not about victory or defeat but about responsibility”. “What responsibility is he talking about? His government has not fulfilled even one-fourth of promises he made in the Lok Sabha elections. He is asking his party workers for responsibility, but he should also think how responsible he himself is,” she said.
In a retort to BJP president Amit Shah’s remark that her face had lost its sheen after the announcement of demonetisation, the BSP chief said, “At the Lucknow rally, the face of the prime minister had lost its sheen. Amit Shah’s face had lost its sheen because they are realising that they will lose the election.”
Mayawati went on to say during his December 31 address, that the prime minister should have announced how much black money has been detected because of demonetisation and how much corruption has been curbed. “He should have provided the figures about how much black money has been caught. People would have felt relieved then, thinking that their 50 days’ struggle had led to this,” Mayawati said. Calling Modi’s remark that the BSP was busy in saving its money “mischievous”, she said the difference between BSP and BJP’s money is that the former’s funds are collected from workers to further the work of BR Ambedkar, while the latter transfers poor people’s money to “capitalists”.
Cautioning Modi against assuming Dalits were “gullible” and could be “lured” by his invoking Ambedkar, building a few memorials or by his party’s leaders having food at a Dalit’s house, Mayawati reiterated her allegation that the BJP government may misuse the Centre’s machinery against her party and its senior leaders in the coming days.