Yet to come to terms with the stunning reversals of the Bahujan Samaj Party, its president Mayawati on Wednesday attributed the debacle in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to the shifting of the Muslim vote to the Samajwadi Party almost en bloc.
“About 70 per cent of the Muslim vote was transferred to the SP, which also gained from the support of the OBCs and upper castes.” However, “Dalits voted en bloc for the BSP, which enabled it to finish second; otherwise it would have been pushed backwards,” the outgoing Chief Minister told a press conference here after handing over her resignation to Governor B.L. Joshi. She also recommended the dissolution of the 15th Vidhan Sabha.
Ms. Mayawati denied that corruption charges and the National Rural Health Mission scam contributed to her party's downfall. “Had the voting reflected the public anger against my government, the BSP would not have won 80 seats and my position would have been similar to that of [the former Bihar Chief Minister] Lalu Prasad.”
Blaming the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party for creating conditions for the Muslims to opt for the SP, she said the shift was on account of the diverse stands taken by these two parties for political gains on the 4.5 per cent quota [for Muslims] issue. “While the Congress raised the quota issue in the midst of the elections, it was opposed by the BJP in a bid to woo the upper castes and the OBCs.”
The Muslims feared that the BJP would capture power if the upper castes and the OBCs backed it. “They ignored the Congress, which was politically weak, and also the BSP, and shifted their support to the SP.”
The polarisation enabled many SC, OBC and upper caste candidates fielded by the SP to win the polls on the strength of Muslim votes. “It also led to the victory of Muslim candidates entered by the SP in constituencies where the minority community exercised a domineering influence over the poll outcome.” Moreover, the SP gained from the division of the upper caste vote, Ms. Mayawati said, adding BSP suffered the most.
“But, despite the Opposition ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, the Dalit support base of the BSP has remained intact.” She thanked the Dalit ‘samaj', and Muslims, OBCs and upper castes, especially those who “were not misled” against supporting the BSP.
Now, Ms. Mayawati proposes to expand the BSP cadre by including other castes, on the pattern of Dalits, by taking them out of the Hindu-Muslim mindset. A broad-based cadre would deter the possibility of the BSP suffering setbacks in future, she said.
Taking a dig at the SP, Ms. Mayawati said people would soon come to know about its style of functioning. Referring to “hooliganism” by SP workers, she said, “A beginning was made on Tuesday and the people will soon remember the BSP government's good governance.”
Ms. Mayawati blamed the media also for the BSP's defeat.