Mayawati’s decision to contest Lok Sabha elections alone could be fatal

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Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati has once again announced regarding the upcoming Lok Sabha elections that Bahujan Samaj Party will contest the Lok Sabha elections alone. Even before this, Mayawati had many times refused to join any kind of alliance for the Lok Sabha elections. He has not yet announced the candidates for the elections, due to which there are speculations about his joining the India alliance. In the 2024 general elections, every political party wants to get maximum seats in a politically important state like Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, small and big parties want to increase their political stature and status by joining the NDA and India alliance. In such a situation, Mayawati not being a part of any alliance raises many questions.

The question is whether Mayawati will be able to challenge the NDA and India alliance by contesting the elections alone? Is Mayawati confident that her core vote bank will fully support her? Does Mayawati think that BSP will dominate in the triangular contest? Is Mayawati confident that Muslim voters will stand firmly with her instead of the India Alliance? Will Mayawati reveal the strategy according to the election results? Is Mayawati on the path of going it alone or is there some bigger plan behind her silence?

The BSP chief has spoken several times in the last six-seven months about contesting the elections alone, and also said that forming an alliance would harm them. There is nothing wrong in a party not forming an alliance and contesting the elections alone. But the party should be seen fighting! Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has formed alliance with both BJP and Samajwadi Party. But for the last two and a half decades, BSP has shown greater inclination towards BJP. Mayawati has also become the Chief Minister of UP thrice with the support of BJP.

BSP had fought the last Lok Sabha elections in alliance with Samajwadi Party but they ended the alliance after reaching zero to 10 seats with the help of SP. There is no doubt that BSP’s vote bank is also slipping. The BSP supremo may say that the alliance causes loss to her party, but the truth is that the BSP benefited the most from the alliance in the last Lok Sabha elections. In the year 1996, BSP had won 6 Lok Sabha seats, when BSP had got 20.6 percent votes. In the year 1998, BSP got four seats and the vote percentage increased to 20.9 percent. In the year 1999, BSP got 14 seats and the vote share was 22.08 percent. In the year 2004, the seats increased to 19 and 24.67 percent votes were received. BSP’s best performance was in 2009 when the party won 20 Lok Sabha seats and got 27.42 percent votes.

The situation of BSP kept changing since 2014. BSP, which has twenty MPs, could not get even a single seat in this election and its vote percentage also fell to 19.77 percent. BSP’s vote declined by about eight percent. This was the worst performance of BSP after 1996. In the year 2019, BSP formed an alliance with SP. BSP benefited greatly from this and BSP, which had zero seats, won ten seats. Whereas his opinion further decreased. In this election, BSP in alliance with SP got only 19.43 percent votes. BSP has only one MLA in the assembly.

There was a time when BSP used to declare its candidates long before the elections. BSP was probably the first to start declaring candidates months before the elections. But now the elections have come to a head and instead of announcing the BSP candidates, the old record of contesting the elections alone is being played. Whereas BJP, SP, RLD and SubhaSP have declared candidates on many seats. After a lot of hard work, on March 10, BSP nominated Mohd. from Moradabad seat of UP. Has declared Irfan Saifi as its first candidate.

In the last decade, many of Mayawati’s trusted lieutenants started joining other parties. The 10 MPs who won in the last elections are also exploring new political possibilities. In this, Ritesh Pandey, MP from Ambedkar Nagar, has joined BJP. BJP has also given him ticket. Ghazipur MP Afzal Ansari has been declared the SP candidate. Meanwhile, Danish Ali from Amroha is now in the Congress camp. Jaunpur MP Shyam Singh Yadav has also moved towards Congress. Bijnor MP Maluk Nagar and Lalganj Lok Sabha MP Sangeeta Azad are also being speculated to change sides.

In UP and other states of the country, the political graph of BSP is falling election after election. In last year’s assembly elections, Akash Anand was handling the party’s election campaign in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, where the party has performed much worse than the previous elections. BSP’s account was not even opened in any state except Rajasthan and the vote percentage also declined. BSP is now looking weak everywhere in Uttar Pradesh and outside states. The party organization is in poor condition in the states of North India including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi. The party has not been successful in uniting even its core Dalit voters. After being out of power, Dalits are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Mayawati. In fact, the political equation of BSP created by Kanshi Ram had gone awry and Chandrashekhar Azad is positioning himself as the new leadership among the Dalits. In this way, BSP is surrounded in a political maze, where on one hand BJP has taken non-Jatav votes into its fold, while on one hand Chandrashekhar is trying to add Jatav votes to himself. Mayawati, considered the face of Dalit politics, is no longer shining the same as before.

BSP, which had 27.42 percent votes in 2009, came down to 19.43 percent in the 2019 general elections. Whereas in this election BSP was in alliance with SP. Even though BSP was successful in forming the government in UP with full majority in 2007, there has been a decline since then. In the 2012 UP elections, BSP came down to 80 seats from 206 seats in 2007. In 2017, BSP was reduced to just 19 seats. In the 2022 elections, BSP won one seat and was reduced to 13 percent votes.

BSP, which is fighting for survival in the state, is facing a shortage of faces to contest the Lok Sabha elections in the home district of its supremo and former Chief Minister Mayawati. Elections are round the corner, despite this there is no significant movement visible in the BSP camp. Mayawati and any other BSP leader have not held any election rally yet. If BSP’s vote percentage and number of MPs do not increase in the 2024 general elections, then the political path will become difficult for the party. BSP has suffered the consequences of fighting alone in 2014. In true sense, the election path for BSP is full of difficulties. The decision of Mayawati, who has been in power in Uttar Pradesh four times, to contest the elections alone may prove fatal for her.

– Dr. Ashish Vashishtha

(The author is an independent senior journalist)

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