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Being a Yadav in BSP: How One Man’s Candidature is Keeping Mahagathbandhan Together in UP's Jaunpur

With 3.13 lakh Yadav voters, 1.84 lakh Muslims and 2.70 Jatavs, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance hopes that fielding retired PCS officer Shyam Singh Yadav will ensure a victory for it.

Uday Singh Rana | CNN-News18@UdaySRana

Updated:May 10, 2019, 4:25 PM IST
Being a Yadav in BSP: How One Man’s Candidature is Keeping Mahagathbandhan Together in UP's Jaunpur
File photo of SP-BSP alliance candidate Shyam Singh Yadav.

Jaunpur: “There was a time,” says a BSP worker in Jaunpur, “when we used to wait for ‘behenji’ to come back to power because it was difficult to live under the SP (Samajwadi Party) rule. Look at us today. Who would have thought a Yadav would be contesting on the ‘haathi’ (elephant) symbol?”

Of the 38 candidates that Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded in Uttar Pradesh this year, only two come from the Yadav community. The first is Chandradev Ram Yadav in Kaisarganj, which voted in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections. The second is Shyam Singh Yadav from Jaunpur, which votes this Sunday. In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s backyard, Shyam Singh Yadav’s candidature has become a unifying force for the cadres of both alliance partners, the SP and the BSP.

SP worker Dev Narayan Yadav says, “I am happy with the alliance. The notion that Yadavs and Dalits oppress each other is greatly exaggerated, but it used to happen. Old enmities have been forgotten and they have come together. If we stay united, we will survive. I don’t mind voting for this alliance. BSP has done the right thing by giving a ticket to someone from our community.”

Traditional rivals SP and BSP have come together in the past as well, but the caste tensions between Yadavs and Dalits had always underpinned the political enmity between them. That is why when it came to deciding who would contest from Jaunpur, both partners were at an impasse.

“Jaunpur is a Yadav-dominated area. Only a Yadav can defeat the BJP,” said an SP leader. “But giving the seat to the SP would disturb the maths! Akhilesh Yadav was very clear, both parties would get the same number of seats. So, a compromise was worked out.”

The alliance decided to field Shyam Singh Yadav, a retired Provincial Civil Services (PCS) officer and a Yadav, on a BSP ticket. This was not unlike the compromise worked out in last year’s Kairana bypoll when Tabassum Hassan, a Muslim, contested on the ticket of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a party that counts Jats as its vote bank.

With 3.13 lakh Yadav voters, 1.84 lakh Muslims and 2.70 Jatavs, the alliance is hoping its arithmetic in Jaunpur is solid. The BSP has tried social engineering combinations before by fielding Brahmin candidates in bulk in the 2007 Assembly elections, but this will be the first time since the 1993 elections that they are trying to forge Yadavs, Dalits and Muslims into a solid voting bloc. Shyam Singh Yadav, though, believes the alliance is wider than just Yadavs and Dalits.

“The SP and BSP alliance is not just about Yadavs and Dalits, it has a wide social base. It represents all sections of society. There is a real unity among workers of both parties,” he says.

The coalition, says Yadav, is an ideological one. “When the alliance came together the last time, they formed the government in UP. This was supposed to be an all-India alliance but they were kept apart under a conspiracy. Mayawati is campaigning for Mulayam Singh Yadav, this has sent a strong message to the workers.”

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