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Why Mayawati is supporting Murmu and Dhankhar

Some reasons behind Mayawati's decision to back NDA's Vice Presidential pick Jagdeep Dhankar may include the Jat vote, the Muslim bogey and the BSP's shrinking space in Uttar Pradesh politics.

"In view of larger public interest and the party’s own movement, the BSP has decided to extend its support to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar," Mayawati said. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastava)

The ever-unpredictable Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Mayawati, has again gone her separate way from the rest of the non-BJP Opposition to back NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar for vice-president.

This comes days after the BSP said it would back the NDA’s Droupadi Murmu for president, instead of the Opposition’s joint candidate Yashwant Sinha.

While, like Murmu’s win, Dhankar’s on August 6 is almost certain – given how the numbers are stacked, with the BSP’s 10 Lok Sabha MPs and one in the Rajya Sabha not likely to make a difference – the Opposition had been trying to send a message by bringing all non-BJP parties under one umbrella.

Officially, while announcing support to Dhankhar, Mayawati said: “It is well-known that due to the lack of a consensus between the government and Opposition for the post of the president… finally an election was held. Now as the same situation has developed, election will be held for the post of vice-president… In view of larger public interest and the party’s own movement, the BSP has decided to extend its support to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar….”

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Some reasons behind Mayawati’s decision:

🔴 The Jat vote: Party leaders explained that by “BSP movement”, Mayawati was hinting at Dhankhar’s identity as a Jat. “Jats are OBCs in western Uttar Pradesh… Dhankars are also in significant numbers in Rajasthan, where Assembly elections are due next year. The BSP is focusing on Rajasthan, and party national coordinator Akash Anand (Mayawati’s nephew) has been touring there to prepare for the polls,” a leader said.

In the 2018 Rajasthan elections, the BSP had won six seats and 4% of the vote share. The party is hoping that support to Dhankhar will earn it additional votes of Jats, both in the state polls now and later in the Lok Sabha elections.


🔴 The Muslim ‘bogey’: On whether the BSP did not fear alienating the Muslims with its support to an NDA nominee, a party leader said: “Standing with the Opposition does not give one certificate of secularism. Remember, the Congress has tied up with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The BSP has its own identity and it is free to make a decision.”

🔴 The deprived card: The party leader said BSP voters understand that it is backing Murmu and Dhankhar as both belong to deprived sections of society. “The BSP cannot take a negative stand against representatives of deprived sections.” Murmu is a tribal, and the BSP’s main vote bank is Dalits.

🔴 Shrinking space: Sources said Mayawati also wanted to send the message that the BSP had its own identity and presence in national politics. Standing on the same side as the Samajwadi Party – its occasional partner but long-standing rival – is not going to help it revive in Uttar Pradesh, where it has shrunk alarmingly. With other parties taking the lead in picking the two Opposition candidates, and with few MPs and MLAs (it won 1 in UP this time) of own to dictate terms, Mayawati saw few gains for herself in going with the Opposition.

First published on: 05-08-2022 at 02:29:51 pm
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