Mayawati’s Bypoll Strategy: Kill Many Birds With One Stone
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati declared that her party will take a backseat in the upcoming bypolls in Kairana and Noorpur, unlike its role in the recently concluded Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections.
With the Samajwadi Party (SP) still considering the situation to be in its favour and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sensing a crack in the Opposition, how should Mayawati’s statement be looked at?
Sweeping aside the guest house scandal, the BSP supporting the SP in the previous bypolls was a big step.
The motive of the bypoll coalition was to gauge the possible strength of the SP and the BSP together and to obtain statistics for future analysis.
The results of Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls show that if the SP-BSP decide to come together, the influx of the BJP in the state can be halted. The results have breathed new hope and excitement into the SP and the BSP and sparked fear in the BJP.
Next came the Rajya Sabha elections. The Congress, the SP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) had assured the BSP that it would support its sole candidate. However, the three parties together could not ensure victory. But that did not dampen the BSP’s spirit, with Mayawati warning the BJP saying that she now has a formula in hand to defeat it in 2019.
Then what made Mayawati take a backseat in the upcoming bypolls?
This, actually, is a well thought-out war strategy. The seats of Kairana and Noorpur are with the BJP. Hukum Singh, the Member of Parliament (MP) from Kairana, died an untimely death due to respiratory disorders while Noorpur MP Lokendra Singh died in a road mishap. The untimely deaths of the MPs will only get the BJP sympathy votes in both constituencies.
Moreover, the extent of polarisation in Kairana constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was so vast that Hukum Singh had won with over 50 percent votes. Hence, distancing the BSP from the Kairana bypoll has more than one benefit for Mayawati.
Killing Many Birds With One Stone
- The first benefit the BSP gets is that the fear sowed in the BJP after the Gorakhpur-Phulpur formula will be intact. Being on the forefront of Kairana and Noorpur by-elections where the BSP sees less prospects of victory might end up destroying the success of the formula used in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
- Secondly, Mayawati wants to send a message to Akhilesh Yadav and Ajit Singh that her support should not be taken lightly. Portraying this as the BSP’s sacrifice, she wants to ascertain that the SP will return the favour, if need be, in case an alliance does form in the future. She wants to make sure that if her party is giving it all to make the other party’s candidate win, she won’t be isolated when the time comes.
- Third, this sends a message to the anti-BJP voters that she can go to any extent to form a strong coalition of the Opposition, provided others let go off their personal ego.
Slowly and steadily, while giving a war cry for 2019, she is inching towards reusing the formula of 2007.
What Was the 2007 Formula?
Recently, Mayawati has been reiterating that Dalits, backward classes and minorities are facing atrocities under the BJP rule. This statement means much more than one may think.
After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2017 state elections, Mayawati has realised that Muslims will vote for the ones who have the backbone to defeat the BJP. And to achieve that goal, she has to get back to the social engineering that helped her bag 206 seats in 2007.
Mayawati did so with the support of Brahmins, Dalits, Yadavs and other backward classes. She is, once again, trying to get the support of those voters.
Mayawati realises that she can claim her stake in any probable coalition with her rivals only if she is on firm ground.
The Numbers Game
The SP and the BSP together have a voter base of more than 50 percent in the state. The BJP could taste victory in 2014 and 2017 only due to fragmentation of votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state, the BJP had 42.3 percent votes, the SP bagged 22.2 percent, the BSP got 19.6 percent and the Congress settled for 7.5 percent.
The SP, the BSP and the Congress put together bagged 49.3 percent of the votes in 2014.
In 2017, the BJP got 39.67 percent votes, the SP bagged 21.82 percent, the BSP got 22.23 percent while the Congress got 6.25 percent. The SP, the BSP and the Congress put together got 50.3 percent.
Dalits, Muslims and backward classes put together make for a very strong vote base. The BJP does realise the threat of Mayawati and Akhilesh joining hands, with the Congress’ support. Hence, time and again, the BJP tries to remind the BSP of the guest house scandal.
(The article was originally published on Hindi Quint and was translated by Eshwar Gole.)