Political leaders are sweating it out on the campaign trail with just days left for the model code of conduct to come into force ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, however, is missing in action as compared to her counterparts in BJP, Samajwadi Party and Congress.
Leaders in the BSP, however, have claimed that their programmes were underway and, soon, Mayawati will step out for campaigning.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is busy with his ambitious statewide ‘Samajwadi Vijay Rath Yatra’, while Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is leaving no opportunity to raise issues against the BJP-led government in the state.
The ruling BJP, meanwhile, has launched its ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ and senior leaders, including UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, have been busy addressing public gatherings. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the state several times in December. However, Mayawati has not been active on the ground, apart from addressing some press conferences in Lucknow recently.
Satish Chandra Mishra, national general secretary, BSP, while speaking to News18 said, “The BSP programmes are on in all the reserved seats, which I am heading district wise. As soon as the schedule of the programme is over, behen ji (Mayawati) will step out for the election campaign. Even though she is not holding rallies outside, she is taking feedback from time to time by meeting party leaders and workers.”
Senior political commentator and veteran journalist Ratan Mani Lal said Mayawati was confident that her dedicated support base and supporters will not easily sway this political season. “In the race to attract the majority community, no party is separately raising issues related to Dalits and backward communities. The BSP chief’s expectation of support from the Brahmin community would also be reassuring.”
In fact, Mayawati, who is known for her massive election rallies, observed Parinirvana Divas on October 9 at the Kanshi Ram memorial site. A large number of people were present there. However, it cannot be considered an election rally.
Mayawati has given the responsibility of connecting with Brahmins to Mishra, whose wife Kalpana Mishra is also going all out to woo women of the community.
The BSP chief and four-time CM has always had a strong presence on reserved seats. In the 2017 assembly elections, Mayawati won 19 seats. This election is considered difficult for Mayawati, as many big faces of the BSP have left the party. The BSP had several splits with leaders, who accused the party’s high command of lacking a connect with the masses.
The churning started last year during the Rajya Sabha polls when five MLAs met Akhilesh and alleged that their support to the BSP candidate had been forged. With the recent exodus, Mayawati’s trusted aide Mishra has emerged as a thorn in the flesh for 11 party MLAs, who were sacked in the last two years with many accusing the senior BSP leader of creating differences and misleading her.
Mishra has been Mayawati’s confidant for years and was key to reaching out to Brahmins that brought the BSP to power in 2007 with 206 of the 403 seats. Since then, the party’s vote share has fallen from 30 per cent to 80 seats (25 per cent) in 2012 and 19 seats (22 per cent) in 2017 assembly elections.