Uttar Pradesh election results have not brought good news for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). BSP chief Mayawati can boast to have been the first Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, who completed her full tenure.
When Mayawati’s BSP went into Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in 2012, its claim to have provided a riot-free five years in the state was lauded even by her detractors.
This was appreciated over the next five years during the Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure, when Uttar Pradesh witnessed tens of the incidents of communal clashes across the state.
READ| UP Election Results 2017: BJP eyes two-third majority; SP-Congress, BSP decimated
But, the Uttar Pradesh election results 2017 indicate that there are serious problems with the BSP and its leader Mayawati as she seems to have failed to establish a connect with the voters of the state.
EROSION IN CASTE BASE
The BSP has always staked claim on the Dalits of Uttar Pradesh. Dalits constitute over 21 per cent of the population of Uttar Pradesh.
Jatavs have formed the core support base for the BSP. Mayawati belongs to this caste. Jatavs comprise about 56.3 per cent of total Dalit population of Uttar Pradesh.
The other Dalit subcastes like Pasis, who constitute about 16 per cent of Dalit population, Dhobis, Balmikis, Dhanuks and Khatiks have been traditional supporters of the BSP.
In 2012, Mayawati’s social engineering with Brahmin-Dalit-Muslims won majority for the BSP. But, since then the formula has not worked for the BSP.
The general elections in 2014 showed that Modi wave wiped out support base for Mayawati. The BSP got about 20 per cent votes in the parliamentary elections but the vote share did not translate into even a single seat.
MODE OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Since the Lok Sabha polls, electioneering has undergone a sea change in the country. Huge rallies, use of technology and pompous canvassing are the norms of election campaign.
Mayawati has stuck to the old style of election rallies. She still comes to the election rallies and reads out a speech. All other parties and leaders have become interactive in their election speeches by asking questions, seeking loud responses and throwing catchy jibes at the opponents.
Mayawati has failed to establish a lively connect with the voters- a large chunk of those are young below 35 years of age.
‘CASH FOR TICKET’ IMAGE
On numerous occasions in the past, Mayawati has been accused by her own party leaders of demanding cash for giving party tickets to prospective candidates.
After the BSP drew a naught in the Lok Sabha elections, three senior leaders Jugal Kishore, Swamy Prasad Maurya and RK Chaudhary leveled serious allegations against Mayawati saying that she demanded money from candidates.
A little later, her trusted aid Swami Prasad Maurya was quoted in media reports as saying that Mayawati had devised a general formula for giving tickets. The most backward caste candidates would be asked to pay Rs 2 crore to Rs 2.5 crore for securing party ticket.
The image of taking bribe for fielding party candidate has eroded Mayawati’s credibility as a leader of Dalit, suppressed class in Uttar Pradesh.
Demonetisation was another factor that is said to have damaged Mayawati’s poll prospects in Uttar Pradesh elections.
The BSP is accused to have accumulated huge amount of unaccounted cash by means of donations lacking transparency. After demonetisation of old currency notes, the BSP was left with little resources to fund its campaign.
When Mayawati raised her pitch against demonetisation, many took it as confirmation of the allegations leveled by her opponents about her party keeping unaccounted money.
RELUCTANCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Narendra Modi’s rise as a leader with national appeal is credited to his clever use of social media. The Lok Sabha elections of 2014 saw social media transforming as potent medium of election campaign.
Mayawati has largely avoided social media believing that her core voters don’t have access to social media tools. But, in an India, where there are more mobile phones than toilets, her assumption seems to be misplaced.
Earlier, her absence from social media was considered a strength for Mayawati as her appeal was believed to be an emphatic undercurrent. But, the Uttar Pradesh election results confirm that Mayawati’s strategy has outlived its electoral utility.
LACKS STAR POWER
Different parties have tried different tricks to cash in on their star power. Before rise of Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party used to rope in bollywood stars for their election rallies.
During the last five years, Akhilesh Yadav tried to build a brand for himself. For Samajwadi supporters, Akhilesh Yadav is a star. But, that cannot be said about Mayawati, who is thought to be lacking star power.
The BJP has Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who galvanises supporters and cadres alike with his election speeches. Even the Congress has used Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as its trump card.
The BSP clearly lacks in star power. Combine this with the allegations of corruption, the BSP lags further behind in electoral race.
While Mayawati has not given out signs of reaching out to all communities and classes of voters, her rivals in the SP and the BJP have called for support of all.
Despite raking up the issue like Kabristan and Shamshaan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always sought votes on the plank of development. He gave slogans like Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party also sought support from all the communities and castes accusing the BJP of playing communal card.
But, Mayawati kept harping on the old tunes of Dalit politics. Many Dalit youths, attending her rallies, said that if their elders supported Mayawati in the past, it did not mean that they would blindly follow.
The Dalit youths want better jobs. They are aspiring. Modi cashed in on their aspiration with the promise of providing jobs and giving better opportunities for entrepreneurship at small scale. Mayawati seems to have simply failed on this count.
This reflected in voting pattern in Uttar Pradesh. Before 2014, about 53 per cent of non-Jatav Dalits voted for the BSP. But, in the Lok Sabha elections 45 per cent non-Jatavs voted for Modi.