Mayawati's biggest challenge of her political career

UP election: Mayawati faces biggest challenge of her political career

Although Mayawati is still considered as the undisputed leader of the 'Jatav' (SC) community, BSP's vote share witnessed gradual decline over the past few years

BSP Supremo Mayawati file photo. Credit: IANS Photo

With almost all her party's legislature group members deserting her and even her once closest associates parting ways, four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati perhaps is facing the biggest challenge of her over three-decade long political career in the forthcoming state assembly elections.

Mayawati, who, riding her social engineering formula that brought the 'Brahmins-Dalits-Muslims' together, had managed to win 206 seats in a House of 403 in 2007 assembly polls in the state and formed the government, saw her electoral fortunes nosediving in subsequent assembly elections.

While the BSP won 80 seats in 2012 assembly polls, its tally declined sharply to 19 in 2017 assembly elections. What compounded to the woes of the party was that as many as 15 of its MLAs either shifted allegiance or were expelled on charges of anti-party activities since then.

Senior leaders like Ram Achal Rajbhar, former UP BSP president, and Lalji Verma, a one time close confidante of Mayawati, have joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) along with half a dozen other BSP legislators. A similar number has switched loyalty to the BJP.

Read: Mayawati promises to 'take care' of all castes if voted to power

Although Mayawati is still considered as the undisputed leader of the 'Jatav' (SC) community, which forms around 10 per cent of the total electorate in the state, BSP's vote share has witnessed gradual decline over the past few years. BSP had secured a little over 30 per cent votes in 2007, when it had formed the government in the state. It went down to less than 26 per cent in 2012 and further declined to around 22 per cent in 2017.

Political analysts say that BSP had support base among the Muslims, OBC and other SC communities, besides the 'Jatavs', but it had witnessed a gradual erosion over the years. ''It will not be a surprise if it (vote share) goes down further,'' said a Lucknow-based analyst.

Chandrashekhar alias Ravan, the founder of Bhim Army (a dalit outfit) has emerged as a potential challenger to Mayawati, especially in the Western UP region. Mayawati, however, dismissed any such threat from Chandrashekhar's party.

BSP MLA Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamal, who joined the SP a few days ago, says that the Muslims will not be supporting Mayawati this time. ''BSP is no longer in a position to defeat the BJP...SP is the only party which can do it,'' he said.

No wonder Mayawati has returned to her tested success formula of ''social engineering'' and her party organised a series of statewide 'Brahmin Sammelans' in different parts of the state aiming at bringing back the electorally influential community to her fold in the polls.

Mayawati has made it clear that her party will not forge electoral alliances in future and would contest the next UP assembly poll on its own. BSP had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the SP and had managed to win 10 seats in UP. 

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