Lucknow: History is repeating itself and the politics of alliance is haunting the Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) chief Mayawati. Her mentor and BSP founder Kanshiram had forged an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 1993. The alliance, with support from the Congress and other small parties, succeeded in forming the government in Uttar Pradesh. But the alliance lasted less than two years and ended on a violent note in June 1995.
Its collapse was marked by the infamous state guest house incident in Lucknow where the Samajwadi Party “goons” had attacked Mayawati, the then general secretary of the BSP. The second alliance between the BSP and SP announced in January, despite the assertion by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati that it’s a long term alliance and will last at least till the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, survived for less than six months.
Although the gathbandhan was a win-win situation for the BSP, for it increased the party’s tally to 10 seats against nil in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, things are so desperate for Mayawati that she not only ended the tie-up with SP twice after the recent polls, she is even inventing alibis to justify the calling off of the alliance. She also levelled charged against Akhilesh and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, which were dismissed by the SP leaders as “frivolous and preposterous”.
So what explains the second-time breakup and another round of Mayawati’s outburst against Akhilesh and his party in less than a month after the recent Lok Sabha elections?
Soon after the conclusion of general elections in May, Mayawati had announced the split with SP, saying BSP will go alone in the UP by-polls in 12 Assembly seats. On June 23 and 24, she went hammer and tongs against the Samajwadi Party, listing new reasons as to why she decided to sever all ties.
“It’s very difficult in competitive electoral politics for a political leader to confess his/her own mistakes. Mayawati has realised that it was a monumental mistake to forge alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Both the parties have same social base as their vote banks and both had come to blows in 1995 for this reason,” said political analyst AK Verma, adding, “Mayawati is back to square one and will now push for the Dalit-Muslim alliance for the future elections.”
So distressed is the BSP chief that she even made public the private communication she had with Akhilesh Yadav, saying that the SP chief had asked her to not give tickets to Muslim candidates.
After three successive defeats in the last five years, and after experimenting with social engineering and an alliance, Mayawati is left with only one option: to fight for number two position in Uttar Pradesh politics. And for this, her party needs a fair share of Muslim votes.
The Dalit-Muslim vote bank takes her party close to the threshold of close to 30 per cent, and these peripheral votes, Mayawati is confident will not only keep her party relevant but also a dominant players in power politics of Uttar Pradesh.
To achieve this goal, she has no option but to go whole hog for the Muslim vote bank. This explains her allegations that Akhilesh had asked her not to give tickets to many Muslim candidates as it would lead to communal polarisation and benefit the BJP.
Mayawati is positioning her party for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections to emerge as the second largest party in the state. She is trying to convince Muslims that only her party can fight the BJP.
She had entered the 2019 alliance to win the confidence of the minority community but it failed to deliver. She later alleged that the Yadav voters drifted towards the BJP, leading to the defeat of two cousins of Akhilesh Yadav in Badaun and Firozabad seats and his wife Dimple Yadav from Kannauj seat.
Mayawati has sent a clear message to Muslims that the Samajwadi Party is no longer an effective player and is unable to protect the interests of the minority community, and with Congress out of reckoning, BSP is the only option left for them.
The efficacy of Mayawati’s new political strategy will be put to test in the impending by-elections in the 12 UP assembly seats vacated by the election of the sitting MLAs to Lok Sabha. Against its established traditions, the BSP has decided to contest the by-polls alone.
Mayawati took over as the UP chief minister for the first time on June 2, 1995. PV Narsihma Rao, the then prime minister on state visit to France on June 11, 1995, in response to a question on how a women from untouchable caste could become the chief minister of the most populous state of India, had said, “Well, this is the miracle of democracy’.” The miracles in politics and elsewhere not always repeat themselves.
(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)