UP Election 2017: Mayawati may try to script a comeback, but SP and BJP stand in her way

On March 11, 2017, a 61-year-old Mayawati could either lose her image of the reigning Dalit Queen or prove that her silent ground work has struck a deep chord with the public—and not just those who believe her style of governance is the only way to tackle Uttar Pradesh’s crumbling law and order situation.

With zero seats in the Lok Sabha for her party and the fact that she has been out of power for two successive terms, it will be an uphill task for Mayawati to regroup and rejuvenate her party.

However if she wins, like Donald Trump, she will prove that political analysts aren’t able to read on-ground trends and that she doesn’t need media attention or approval to win elections. She would, yet again, be a force to reckon with in both state and national politics.

It is a widely held belief that whenever the SP comes to power, the state only becomes ‘lawless’. Mayawati might strengthen security at district and sub-district levels to alleviate incidents like the 2013 Muzaffarnagar Hindu-Muslim riots.

She has also accused the BJP of communal polarization when it spread the belief that a Hindu exodus took place in Kairana, further striking a chord with the Muslims who unite to vote against the BJP.

BSP chief Mayawati.  Reuters

BSP chief Mayawati. Reuters

The 3.5 crore Muslim voters in UP have had a powerful impact. The general assumption is that Muslims are wary of the Samajwadi Party after the Muzaffarnagar riots. Taking advantage of the situation, Mayawati tried to break the Muslim-Yadav nexus through a show of brotherhood to Muslims by giving tickets to 97 Muslim candidates.

Muslims also play a vital role in determining the electoral outcome in 38 districts and 27 parliamentary seats within Uttar Pradesh. For 200 seats in the UP Assembly elections, there are more than 10 percent Muslim voters and for 125 Assembly seats, there are more than 20 percent Muslim candidates.

A total of 55 candidates in 2007 and another 63 in 2012 made it to the Vidhan Sabha. While the BJP employed tactics to make the Muslim vote irrelevant, a possible Mayawati victory will indicate that Muslim support strengthened her position as a national leader.

One of the reasons for her 2012 defeat was her wasteful spending of public funds on parks and statues that made her symbolic presence permanent. A victory in 2017 would mean that in public memory, corruption and anarchy that has taken shape under the Samjwadi Party rule holds more prominence.

In January, the RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said that “if reservation continues, it could lead to separatism in the society”.

Already accusing the ‘Baniya-Brahmin’ party of casteism, Mayawati’s victory could lead to a further concentration of the Dalits who will now feel guarded against any national policy that could potentially affect them negatively.

In fact, Mayawati requesting reservation on an economic basis even for the upper caste will earn her the support of the poor who may have also suffered during the time of demonetization; thus a win-win.

Updated Date: Mar 10, 2017 07:47 AM

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