Is an overconfident BSP taking minority support in Uttar Pradesh for granted ?

As Bahujan Samaj Party cultivates Brahmins, BSP workers fear that the party is leaving minority voters cold. BSP leaders however seem confident that Muslims would have no choice but to support the BSP

BSP leader Mayawati (PTI)
BSP leader Mayawati (PTI)

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

With Bahujan Samaj Party on an overdrive to woo the Brahmins before the assembly election, some party workers seem apprehensive of the party losing the support of Muslims, which is crucial for the BSP if it wants to form the government in Uttar Pradesh in 2022. There are others in the BSP, however, who remind others that if Muslims could rally round Mamata Banerjee in Bengal even after she wore her Brahmin identity on her sleeves and chanted the Gayatri Mantra at election rallies, there is no reason why in UP they will abandon Mayawati.

In the last fortnight or so, BSP has organised over 20 meetings, described as Prabudh Sammelans, which were in fact designed to woo the Brahmins. Party chief Mayawati called these meetings a great success and even asked her deputy Satish Chandra Mishra to hold two meetings a day so that the party could reach out to larger sections of the community in the shortest possible time.

The speed and the scale at which such meetings are being held have however set tongues wagging. Furkaan, who has a tailoring shop in Bhootnath market in Lucknow, says Mayawati is only talking about Brahmins and their welfare. “Has she spoken a word about Muslims in the last one month? If this trend continues, she might lose Muslim support and inadvertently push Muslims towards Samajwadi Party,” he said, while working on his machine.

Furkaan is a Mayawati supporter and in the last two elections he and his his family had voted for the BSP, he claimed.

He said: “There is a feeling that Brahmins were ignored by Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister, who is a Thakur by caste and gave preference to Thakurs. But the real sufferers in this BJP government have been the Muslims. It is the Muslims who have been killed in fake encounters. It is the Muslims who have been deprived of livelihood by whimsical decisions of the Yogi government and it is the Muslims who have been deprived of Government benefits. Has any party organised meetings to assuage our feelings and to know what exactly we want? We expected the opposition to raise our woes but Mayawati is busy only talking about Brahmins.”

As he said this, other Muslim shopkeepers of the area, nodded their heads in unison.

Shakil, who has a shoes repairing shop said while there is nothing wrong in wooing the Brahmins, Mayawati should talk about Muslims too.

Muslims, who account for almost 20 percent of the total population of Uttar Pradesh, generally have been voting for either the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party during the last 30 years, depending on the candidate who is better placed to defeat BJP. With Owasi’s AIMIM in the fray this time, the way Muslims will vote will be even more crucial. BJP will naturally be happy to see the minority votes splinter.

The BSP is not concerned about such statements as it seems its strategy is clear. One of the senior BSP leaders said that Muslims have always supported the party and will vote for the BSP in the coming 2022 elections too.

“Muslims vote for the candidate who is better placed to defeat BJP. In BSP we have support of 21 per cent of Dalits, 19 percent of the Muslims, almost 13 percent of the OBCs and 10 per cent of Brahmins. Numerically we are better placed than others,” he said.

He said in 2007 the BSP had got the support of Brahmins and Muslims and this helped the party win the election and form the government. The same social engineering formula is being replicated this time, he said.

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