Uttar pradesh

Rebel leaders raise worry for Mayawati in BSP stronghold

BSP suprermo Mayawati addressing an election rally ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, in Lucknow on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.

BSP suprermo Mayawati addressing an election rally ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, in Lucknow on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Faced with the task of retaining her fort — Ambedkar Nagar in Purvanchal — where she won three out of five seats in 2017 despite an overall miserable performance, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Saturday tried to downplay the impact of rebellion by several senior leaders in this district adjoining Ayodhya.

The rebel senior leaders of the BSP — Lalji Verma, Ram Achal Rajbhar and Tribhuvan Dutt — are contesting elections from the district, known as the birthplace of socialist Ram Manohar Lohia, on a Samajwadi Party (SP) symbol this time. Mr. Verma, a Kurmi (Other Backward Class or OBC) five-time MLA, was the BSP’s leader in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, while Mr. Rajbhar, also a five-time MLA, is a former BSP State president and a key OBC face in the region. Mr. Dutt, a Dalit, is a former two-time MLA and a former Lok Sabha MP. A fourth SP candidate, Rakesh Pandey, who’s standing in the Jalalpur constituency, is the father of sitting BSP MP from Ambedkar Nagar, Ritesh Pandey.

The defection of senior leaders to the rival SP has bolstered that party’s entry into ‘ bahujan’ social justice politics this election season, while providing it a big boost to its outreach among non-Yadav Hindu voters. The SP hopes to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the BSP, and this is best illustrated in Ambedkar Nagar, where four out of its five candidates are former BSP leaders.

Addressing a rally here, Ms. Mayawati spent the last few minutes of her speech explaining to voters why she had to “throw them out” of the BSP. Ms. Mayawati accused Mr. Verma, Mr. Rajbhar and Mr. Dutt of dividing the party into three factions despite her warnings. This factionalism caused heavy losses to the BSP in last year’s local body election, Ms. Mayawati said. “Had they worked together, neither would I have to expel them nor would the party suffer losses in the local body election,” she said, adding that keeping them in the party would have hurt the BSP more in general elections.

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also expressed confidence that the rebels would lose their election from the Katehari, Akbarpur, Alapur and Jalalpur seats, respectively. “For how long will these people stick together in the SP, only time will tell,” Ms. Mayawati said.

In 2017, the BSP won three seats in Ambedkar Nagar, Katehari, Akbarpur and Jalalpur, and stood third in Alapur. The BJP won two seats. The SP could only manage one second-place finish in Alapur.

This time, the SP is not only hoping that the four rebels win their seats but also to influence their respective Kurmi, Rajbhar, Jatav and Brahmin communities in neighbouring areas. The BSP, however, believes that by leaving the party, these rebels have forfeited Ms. Mayawati’s loyal Dalit vote base, meaning they will have minimal impact in the SP.

In 2012, when the SP formed a majority government, it won all five seats here. When the BSP won in 2007, it had won all five seats here. 

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 6:39:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/mayawati-has-to-deal-with-defectionsin-her-stronghold-of-ambedkar-nagar/article65065411.ece