After Congress’s resounding defeat in the recently held Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the party may be eyeing the crucial Dalit votebank in the northern state. Party leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday detailed the Congress’s attempts to get the BSP on board before the elections, and having received ‘no reply’ from Mayawati.
“Mayawati ji didn’t fight elections, we sent her a message to form an alliance but she didn’t respond. Kanshi Ram Ji raised voice of Dalits in UP, though it affected Congress. This time she didn’t fight for Dalit voices because there are CBI, ED and Pegasus,” Rahul said at an event.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party saw its worst performance in the state’s assembly polls this year. Reduced to one seat, the former chief minister and Dalit leader had blamed the BJP for ‘maligning’ its image in the minds of Muslim voters as part of the reason behind her defeat.
However, political experts had said it was the failure of Mayawati’s votebank algorithms and a deviation from the BSP’s original ideologies that may have contributed to the party’s disappointing score.
Now, with Rahul Gandhi’s comments, it seems the Congress may be turning its attention to Dalits in the region. According to political grapevine, the party is now hoping to ‘recreate the lost vote bank of Dalit, Muslims and Brahmins, that had existed till the mid 80’s’.
Rahul Gandhi said he had even proposed the appointment of Mayawati as chief minister in the event of an alliance. “But she gave me no reply. Had I taken even Re 1 I would not have been able to speak here. Why does Mayawati ji not speak?” he said.
Rahul also touched upon the stigma of caste in India, saying it was the only country ‘where animals could be touched, but not humans’.
Political experts are now awaiting Mayawati’s response on the statements. The BSP had claimed the party would form an ‘iron clad’ government in UP ahead of the polls. However, it was reduced to just one seat, one less than the Congress in the politically-crucial state.
While Mayawati has served four separate terms as the Chief Minister of UP, political pundits had claimed that the BSP’s contradictory stance during the campaign had nearly eliminated it from Uttar Pradesh’s centre stage.
“She repeatedly issued statements that seemed supportive of the BJP and Amit Shah reciprocated when he testified BSP’s relevance in UP politics. Naturally, the anti-BJP vote moved away from BSP because they sensed a post poll alliance with the BJP. Moreover, the absence of Dalit leadership in the party made the Dalits search for greener pastures. Some went with BJP and some with SP,” senior political analyst Prof RK Dixit had told IANS.
The Congress, too, had seen a dismal show in the state, where leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had led women-centric campaigns such as ‘Ladki hu lad sakti hu’. After the Grand Old Party’s bad performance in all five states that went to polls, Sonia Gandhi had sought the resignation of its party chiefs. The G-23 group of rebel leaders in the Congress, who had earlier written a letter seeking re-haul, are also attempting to push for change within the party’s functioning and strategy.
With inputs from Pranshu Mishra in Lucknow.