LUCKNOW: While BSP chief Mayawati is eyeing the PM’s chair, the degree of success of her party will depend a lot on the final leg of elections involving 27 seats of eastern Uttar Pradesh in the last two phases.
The party is the dominant partner in the alliance, contesting 16 out of these seats, leaving 11 to its partner, the Samajwadi Party. The division of final 27 seats — 14 of which polled on Sunday — between the allies seems to have roots in the outcome of the 2014 polls when the BSP had finished runner-up, with many close contests, in dozen-odd seats.
“This time we’re armed with the support base of the SP as well. With the transfer of Muslim and Yadav votes to our candidates, combined with our own Dalit vote bank, we are sure to sail through on maximum seats,” said a BSP leader.
Thanks to a solid base of 20% Dalit voters in UP, a BSP candidate generally starts with the support of nearly one lakh votes.
When a force multiplier like upper caste votes or minority votes is added to this base, the party has the potential to end in a winning position, as the state witnessed in 2007 Assembly elections, when the BSP had romped home with an absolute majority.
Since 2014, the BJP’s caste arithmetic had made a dent in Mayawati’s Dalit vote bank, weaning away a large chunk of non-Jatav votes. Besides, upper castes, especially Brahmins, joined the Saffron bandwagon.
Since the Jatavs among Dalits remain committed to the BSP, the vote percentage of the party in both 2014 and 2017 state polls was in the range of 18-20%, but in absence of any add-ons, it couldn’t convert that into seats.
However, the last two phases hold the key for the party, with seats having huge Dalit and most backward castes going to polls. Before the BJP won over MBCs, these two caste groups used to vote together.
MBCs like Nishads, Kushwaha, Koeri, Rajbhars, Musahars, besides Dalits, are in large numbers across 14 seats that went to polls on Sunday. No wonder, the BSP contested 11 of them.