Mayawati on sticky wicket: BSP’s Muslim and Dalit vote bank shrinking

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At a time when every party, including the BJP, is preparing to test political waters in Uttar Pradesh through the upcoming assembly by-polls in the state, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has surprisingly decided to opt out of the polls. This shocking decision by BSP supremo has left everyone wondering that if the party has lost its ground among Dalits, who didn't vote for its candidates in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

BSP to skip Assembly by-polls in UP

Even the BJP which performed exceptionally well in the Lok Sabha polls, as it won record 71 out of 80 seats from the state with largest number of Parliamentary seats, has decided to field candidates for by-poll over 12 seats. These seats were vacated after the sitting MLAs from these assemblies were elected as MPs on BJP or SP tickets. Ruling SP, BJP and even Congress are planning vigorously to win as many seats as possible as it will help them test whether the voters' mood is in their favour, after the LS polls.

Party's shrinking vote-bank

But, the BSP which suffered its worst ever LS poll humiliation, after it failed to win even a single seat from Uttar Pradesh, has decided to stay away from the by-polls. Even, party's traditional and loyal voters were swept by the BJP under the Modi-wave.

Mayawati’s social engineering fails to work in UP

After the recent violence in Moradabad district's Kanth area, in which tension escalated between the Dalits and Muslims, the party seems to be caught in a dilemma. The Kanth violence took place between BSP's two most prudent vote-banks, Dalits and Muslims. Supporting either of the two would result into loss of another section of its voters.

During the month of Ramzan, the Muslims in the area wanted a loudspeaker being pulled down from a temple in the nearby Naugaun Akbarpur village of Kanth, while the Hindus (Dalits) in the area were opposed to this demand. This sparked clashes between the two communities in which several police officers were also injured.

Mayawati has so far distanced her party from the issue and is blaming the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state and BJP for polarizing the entire issue. This shows that the party first wants to weaken the ruling-SP which is considered as a Muslim appeaser and later will take on BJP in 2017 Assembly polls.

Mayawati aiming for 2017 Assembly polls

As per a Hindustan Times report, Ashok Kumar, Moradabad district secretary of the party was quoated as saying, "There was no ‘benefit' in fighting these elections and all eyes are on 2017." Offering a more real political calculation Singh said, "Her main aim is to weaken SP. There will be a straight fight between SP and BJP and the latter will win."

But, party is facing a major challenge as there is decreasing affinity for Muslim candidates among Dalit voters in the parts of western UP. Dalits, who are loyal to Mayawati, hope that she would not field a Muslim candidate as they will no longer vote for them.

Meanwhile, the Muslim voters in the Moradabad are accusing the Dalits of betraying Mayawati and abandoning the BSP. Hence, they will no longer vote for the BSP and go with the SP instead.

Hence, Mayawati is facing a daunting task of bridging the gap between its traditional voters and restoring their confidence to grab power in 2017 Assembly polls.

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