BSP queers the pitch in Bundelkhand



K. Balchand

Mayawati emerges as the common enemy of BJP, Congress

KHAJURAHO (CHHATARPUR): Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has emerged as the common enemy of both the Congress and the ruling BJP in the Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand region where a good 50 seats are at stake.

And not strangely enough the leadership of both these parties has adopted almost the same strategy to retain their positions as principal political players in what was once the Vindhya Pradesh before the creation of the new state of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, bordering Uttar Pradesh.

Both deny the emergence of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the State and stress that it is a straight fight between them for supremacy.

After increasing the BSP’s vote percentage to 7.3 per cent in the 2003 Assembly elections from 6.15 per cent in 1998 and establishing her hold over the Dalits in the State, the U.P. Chief Minister is now keen to show her capacity to tilt the balance in favour of her candidates to the utter discomfort of both the Congress and the BJP.

Ms. Mayawati has fielded candidates in all the 230 constituencies and her party is the only one to contest all the seats in the State, something she avoided doing in the 1998 and 2003 elections.

Her stratagem for Chhatarpur district, famous for the Khajuraho carvings, affords a good reflection of how she is going about her job. The district has five general assembly constituencies, besides a reserved constituency for scheduled castes and she has chosen five upper caste candidates — four Thakurs and a Brahmin — to contest the general seats.

The BJP’s rhetoric that the presence of the BSP was damaging only to the Congress has died down as her ploy has taken the wind out of its sails. She grabbed what she had to from the Congress in the last two elections.

This time she is out to eat into the BJP vote bank.

In the 2003 elections, Ms. Mayawati contested about 48 seats in this region and won two seats but in only one constituency she polled less than 5000 votes.

She got more than 5000 ballots in 14 constituencies, 10000 plus votes in nine constituencies, 15000 and above in six seats, 20000 and above in eight assembly segments, 25000 plus votes in six Assembly and 30000 plus votes in five constituencies.

Again, the BJP and the Congress concede unwillingly that Ms. Mayawati’s strength could only improve, both in terms of seats and share of vote percentage. That is the general perception of the common people including the Dalits.

“We’ve to vote for the BSP even though we know that she has given tickets to those who once oppressed us,” said Indrajit Prajapati in the Rajnagar Asembly constituency.

The State continues to reel under feudalism with Dalits still being unable to enter temples in villages, having to wait for their turn to collect water from a common hydrant, and able to take a bath at any ghat only after others have completed their chores.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister set her plan in motion a year ago itself, by releasing her first list of candidates and then struck at the roots of the two parties by poaching on dissenters with some clout.

Both the parties are feeling the heat as the contest had been converted into a triangular one in the region.

Even if she does not emerge victorious, Ms. Mayawati would be damaging the prospects of one of her two rivals in almost all the constituencies in the region.

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