An uphill task awaits Akash Anand, heir apparent of BSP chief Mayawati 

The BSP, once considered a national alternative in front of BJP and Congress, has been witnessing a rapid decline in support

December 11, 2023 04:22 am | Updated 11:38 am IST - Lucknow

 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati with her nephew and party National Coordinator Akash Anand arrives to address the All-India Party Meeting, in Lucknow on December 10, 2023

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati with her nephew and party National Coordinator Akash Anand arrives to address the All-India Party Meeting, in Lucknow on December 10, 2023 | Photo Credit: ANI

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders on December 10 said the party chief and former four-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati declared her nephew Akash Anand as her heir apparent. The announcement was reportedly made during an all-India meeting of the party held in Lucknow to discuss about preparation strategy for the coming parliamentary elections. However, the party has not made any official declaration.

Mr. Anand, 28, the son of Ms. Mayawati’s younger brother Anand Kumar, was dubbed by many in political circles of Uttar Pradesh to succeed the former Chief Minister sooner or later in the BSP since he was made the National Coordinator of the party in 2019 and his role in the party affairs growing continuously. In his first responsibility, Mr. Anand, an MBA pass out from the United Kingdom, was entrusted with reaching out to the younger generation, primarily the Dalit youths, who were considered moving away from the party since 2014, when the BJP bounced back in the State, making inroads across castes and communities.

“Akash arrived in the political horizon of Uttar Pradesh amid a chaos in Dalits, when the BSP caste calculus decimated after 2017 and a potential challenger arriving to capitalise on Dalit aspirations in the form of Chandrashekhar Azad,” said Asad Rizvi, political analyst based in Lucknow.

Mr. Anand was critical of Mr. Azad, who leads the Azad Samaj Party, describing him as a ‘sycophant’, without taking his name. “Many people are moving with blue flags, but the blue flag with the elephant symbol is the only one that belongs to you [people, BSP supporters],” he said, addressing a gathering after a 13-day Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay Sankalp Yatra in Jaipur, this year.

Poll management

Ms. Mayawati’s nephew is already looking after the party affairs in many other States apart from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. “Akash Anand ji is given the responsibility to strengthen the organisation of the party in different States,” said Udayveer Singh, the BSP district head from Shahjahanpur, who made the claim that the nephew is declared as heir apparent. In the recently concluded Assembly polls, Mr. Anand was handling the election management in four States — Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana — but was not able to turn the tide in favour of the BSP, once considered a national alternative in front of the BJP and the Congress, but presently witnessing a rapid decline in support.

In Rajasthan, where Mr. Anand took a yatra across various districts in the run-up to the Assembly polls, the BSP won two out of 184 seats it contested with a vote share of 1.82%. In the 2018 polls, the BSP won six seats in the State and polled 4.03% votes. In Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, the party failed to win a single seat and even polled much lesser votes compared to 2018. It polled more than 5% votes winning two seats in 2018 in Madhya Pradesh, but failed to poll even a half the vote it got in 2018.

Analysts feel it will be a challenging task in front of the 28-year-old Mr. Anand to make the BSP a formidable player once again amid decay in support base evident from the past two Assembly and parliamentary elections in Uttar Pradesh. “Mayawati rose from a movement which sensitised Dalits about their voting strength. The strength of the BSP to make caste alliances has faded in the last decade. If Mayawati was not able to arrest the decimation of the party, for Mr. Anand, who is not from the ground, it will be a difficult challenge,” said Sanjay Gupta, political scientist teaching at the Department of Political Science in Lucknow University.

He said the problem with political successors such as Mr. Anand was that a large section of their core voter base thinks of them as aristocrats, making it difficult to achieve greater heights in politics. “You see most top political figures whose heir apparents are struggling,” said Mr. Gupta.

The BSP, which formed the government in Uttar Pradesh on its own in the 2007 Assembly polls by winning 206 out of 403 seats, now in 2023 is having a lone MLA and lost almost 60% of its voter support. In 2007, it polled 30.43% votes, while in the 2022 Vidhan Sabha polls, it got only 12.88% of votes.

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