UP Assembly Elections: Mayawati set to chair crucial meet; Is it too little, too late for BSP chief?

UP Assembly Elections: Mayawati set to chair crucial meet; Is it too little, too late for BSP chief?

UP Assembly Elections: Mayawati set to chair crucial meet; Is it too little, too late for BSP chief?

The political landscape in Uttar Pradesh is heating up with the populous state all set to go to the polls early next year.

In such a charged-up atmosphere, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will meet on Thursday at the party headquarters and discuss their election strategy.

According to a report published in the Hindustan Times, along with all the main sector in-charges of the state, the heads of 75 districts of the state have been asked to remain present.

A report in IndiaToday has said that at today’s meet she will discuss her plan of campaigning for the elections. So far, Mayawati has not held any major rallies in the state even as all major parties have started.

What is happening and why could this meeting be a little too late for the Mayawati-led government? Let's take a look.

BSP’s decline

Mayawati's BSP has seen a decline in the number of seats and vote share since the 2012 assembly polls.

In 2007, when the BSP won a majority, it fielded candidates on all 403 seats and won 206 with 30.43 percent of the vote share. This went down in 2012 when it could get only 80 of 403 seats it had contested. The vote share dipped to 25.91 percent. It emerged as the second strongest party in the state with the BJP slipping to the third slot.

In 2017, the scenario reversed with the BSP moving to the number three position as it could win just 19 seats of the 403 it had contested. Its vote share decreased further as it got only 22.2 percent of the votes.

Many experts predict that this upcoming election will be a do-or-die one for Mayawati.

And it's not just her political legacy that she will attempt to save in these polls. Experts state that her performance in the 2022 Assembly polls will also decide the future of the idea of a 'mainstream Dalit party'.

Reasons for Mayawati’s slide

It could be said that Mayawati has made errors, failed to keep her base intact and been unable to adapt to changing times.

If you look at her party today, there is no second rung of leaders. She has also lost many of her heavyweights, who have chosen different parties. For instance, Swami Prasad Maurya and Brijesh Pathak joined the saffron bandwagon in 2016, and the likes of Lalji Verma, Ram Achal Rajbhar and Indrajeet Saroj defected to the SP recently.

Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Mayawati’s most trusted lieutenant, also left her to find solace in the Congress. Other BSP leaders who defected to the SP recently included Ghatampur MLA R P Kushwaha, KK Gautam, Saharanpur MP Qadir Rana and former state BSP chief R S Kushwaha.

Others also believe that Mayawati, who once commanded respect and awe, has lost her sheen and charisma. Another issue that keeps rankling her is her attempt to hand over the mantle to her nephew.

It seems that the party doesn’t have any base voting segment left, except for Jatavs, the caste to which Mayawati belongs.

Mayawati has also lost support to new-age Dalit parties, like the one led by Chandrasekhar Azad Ravan. His party is slowly gaining traction amongst youth, especially in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Trying to change political fortunes

In an attempt to curb this downfall and reverse the tide, the party is now undergoing a major revamp to gain popularity with the locals.

Earlier, she had announced that the BSP would make efforts not to grant 'bahubali' (strongmen) or mafia candidates tickets in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls. With that in mind, she announced that gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari would not be given a party ticket from Mau again.

She also announced that if the BSP came to power, it would focus on development and not on building statues and parks.

It is interesting to note that she made such a declaration as it was during her rule of 2007-2012 that several memorials and parks were constructed in honour of Dalit icons.

She has, surprisingly, also whipped out her upper-caste card by announcing the launch of Brahmin conventions.

A source close to the BSP said the party is planning these events to showcase a ‘Pro-Hindutva’ image.

We don’t know if the 2022 Assembly elections will be kind to Mayawati, but we do know that the run-up to the polls will be action-packed.

With inputs from agencies

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