WHY MAYAWATI IS SILENT
In the era of the high voltage election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, a key player has chosen to keep silent. When we travel across UP, we rarely hear loudspeakers belting out BSP songs (unlike the SP or BJP), neither we see its banners, posters or TV ads. Nor does anyone from BSP participate in TV debates. former CM of UP Mayawati and her BSP , who is contesting in 520 seats across India, it is almost invisible. Unlike her high-profile, chopper-hopping campaign in the 2012 assembly elections, she has been very selective in her public meetings this time. Does it mean BSP and its leader Mayawati have given up the fight? Far from it. We need to do some deep listening in order to decipher the sound of BSP’s silence. Party persons call it BSP’s three-pronged strategy. One, homogenize her Dalit vote bank-that is, iron out differences, if any, among Dalit sub-castes. Two, pitch for inclusive politics, and three, pledge political empowerment through social engineering. The party has given 40 of the 80 tickets in UP-or half of them-to Brahmins and Muslims, which is clear evidence of its attempt to broadbase its appeal. In the 2007 assembly elections, this proved to be a winning formula; it catapulted BSP to power in UP. It’s similar this time. Compared to 2009, more Brahmins and Muslims have been given tickets this time, but the number of tickets given to OBCs has come down. Mayawati apparently feels that OBCs are likely to go with SP or BJP as both are led by OBC leaders, Mulayam Singh and Narendra Modi. After the Muzaffarnagar riots, BSP has zeroed in on Muslims by highlighting that there were no riots during the Maya regime. “We only need 5-10% Brahmin votes. That plus 20% Dalits votes, and some Muslims, the BSP would be on a strong footing. Muslims tend to vote for the candidate who is best placed to beat the BJP candidate, and in many places BSP is better placed to beat BJP. To win the trust of Muslims, Mayawati is repeatedly saying that BSP won’t have any truck with BJP after the polls. BSP has been a bedfellow, even if uncomfortable, with BJP in the past. Increasing the trust factor is, therefore, important. Party leader and Maya aide Satish Chandra Mishra recently paid a visit to Nadwa, a venerated seminary in Lucknow, to convey to the clerics the message: BSP will have no truck with BJP.