Dalit-Bahujan Pitch Already Losing Steam, Mayawati Should Worry About Bhim Army Rise Amid CAA Stir
Apart from celebrating with sweets and eulogizing Ambedkar on his birthday, the BSP has failed to develop or provide a vision document about its future course of politics.
File photo of BSP chief Mayawati
Although the alliance between Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) did not bear the political fruit it had intended to in the summer of 2019, it certainly broke down some social barriers.
The relations between Yadavs and Jatavs of Uttar Pradesh, whose ties were frosty since the early 90s, thawed a bit. The alliance was melting decades of revulsion and distrust between the two communities. But then came the results, and abruptly, came the divorce.
BSP chief Mayawati, in her characteristic style, held a press conference, and blamed SP for failing to get the votes transferred to her party and announced that she’s going solo.
Mayawati was impatient, unrestrained and vocal. Without going into the merit of her allegations, it seems she was in great hurry to call off the alliance. This despite bagging 10 seats compared to zero in 2014 elections. Was the alliance really as big a failure for BSP the as she pretended?
She was soon to realise it. The by-elections, which BSP does not usually contest, brought disgrace to the party. It scored nil out of 11 seats that had gone to the polls and even failed to hold on to its Jalalpur (Ambedkar Nagar) seat where Subhash Pasi of the SP defeated it by less than 1,000 votes. The SP won three seats over all. Suddenly, the SP had emerged out of the despondency that had engulfed it after the general elections and established itself as the alternative to BJP.
The Dalit-Bahujan movement under Mayawati is today losing steam in UP and the lady is fighting for its political relevance. The recent trends of several district and state-level functionaries and leaders of the BSP moving towards the SP and BJP speaks volumes about the party’s prospects.
The Dalits in Uttar Pradesh may be highly politicised but it will be wrong to consider all of them Ambedkarite, someone who feels Bahujan consciousness and believes in Dr BR Ambedkar’s philosophy and vision for social justice.
In fact, apart from the educated, better-off, middle-class Dalits, majority of this marginalised Dalit populace falls outside this bracket. Mayawati has failed to give them a feeling of belonging or create leaders from among them to voice their concerns within the Dalit-Bahujan movement. It is these communities like Dhobis, Khatiks, Valmikis etc., which the BJP has been able to successfully pouch, thrice in a row now — 2014, 2017 and 2019.
As if this was not bad enough, post 2019, a large section of Ambedkarites also look disenchanted with the politics and policies of BSP. Consider this - out of 10 MPs from the party, only two are Dalit. The general feeling is that if Dalits and OBCs do not get tickets from the party, then where else? The allegation of getting BSP ticket on payment of few crores keeps surfacing time and again. Besides, promoting her nephew over the tireless, committed senior leaders of the party is not a good reflection on her.
The ideological crisis is another big handicap of the party. Apart from celebrating with sweets and eulogizing Ambedkar on his birthday, the BSP has failed to develop or provide a vision document about its future course of politics.
Nobody knows Mayawati’s view on the country’s economy, defence preparedness, farming crisis, higher education or even as basic as improving the health sector. Demanding reservation in judicial services and private sectors is just not enough. People want to know how you are going to create jobs. Reservation becomes secondary.
On the other hand, the emergence of Bhim Army and its leader Chandrashekhar Azad looks to have given fresh impetus to the Dalit-Bahujan movement. The Bhim Army is yet to go political, but it is fighting more aggressively and frequently for the self-respect and dignity of the Dalit-Bahujans. As the name suggests, it does not shy away from violence of the upper castes and often returns the favour.
This is giving a new thrill to the Dalit-Bahujan youth who witness exploitation and humiliation from a young age. Azad is the new poster boy for the Dalits. While Mayawati is inaccessible, Azad is always available and in action.
Recently in Delhi to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act, he first addressed students of Jamia Millia University, then reached the police headquarters to protest against students’ detention, followed by a press conference at the Press Club of India and then he went to the Holy Family Hospital to meet students beaten and injured by the police.
In contrast, the best Mayawati could do was send a BSP MPs’ delegation to meet the President of India and lodge her protest against the police atrocities on students. With the recent announcement of a political party in the near future, Azad is ready to take the plunge in electoral politics.
Even in Haryana, where the BSP forged an alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and then broke it days before elections, Mayawati did herself no good.
Chautala is the deputy CM of the state today with 10 seats. Dalits and Jats have similar problems in Haryana that Yadavs and Dalits have in UP. The coming together of these two castes would have certainly given new dynamics and outlook to state politics, even if the BSP had won only a couple of seats.
In rural India, landed castes and the dependent castes, if politically aligned, can benefit much more economically and socially from each other than otherwise.
Meanwhile, if the BSP continues floundering as it is now, it would be a golden opportunity for Akhilesh Yadav to seize the moment. He should be the sole and only choice of secular voters. Mayawati has been the chief minister four times, thrice with the support of the BJP. No wonder, Muslims are not naturally inclined towards her party. They do vote for her candidates where think it will help defeat BJP candidates.
But by and large, the fact is that every time the BJP has strengthened in the state, the Samajwadi Party has emerged as the natural choice of the secular minded or anti-BJP voters. That is because the anti-BJP voter does not trust the BSP. Voting for BSP could mean having a BSP+BJP alliance government or a government dependent on it. So their first and natural choice is Samajwadi Party. It has happened in the past and it could happen in the future as well. Mulayam Singh shot back to power in 1993 after the Kalyan Singh government was dissolved. Again when the BJP and BSP fell apart in 2002-03, Mulayam Singh formed government in 2004.
Now, 2022 could once again see all the secular votes falling in the SP’s lap, provided party leaders can cleverly mobilise and channelize the anger being generated against the BJP.
(Author is a freelance writer. Views are personal.)
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