Mayawati blames 'Muslim samaj' for BSP flop show, reactions mixed

Bahujan Samaj Party failed to win a single seat this time, compared to the five it won in 2019 in alliance with the Samajwadi Party

BSP chief Mayawati (file photo)
BSP chief Mayawati (file photo)

AJ Prabal

In a startling and somewhat indiscreet statement issued on Wednesday, 5 June, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has accused 'Muslim samaj (community)' of not voting for the party.

In this election as well as in the past, adequate representation was given to Muslims by the party, the statement says, and yet the community appears to have failed to appreciate the party’s goals and programmes. “The Muslim community is not able to understand the party,” the statement reads, and goes on to declare that in future, the BSP will think good and hard before giving Muslims an opportunity to contest elections or hold party offices.

The BSP supremo thanked ‘my own jaati’ (the Jatav community) for supporting the party candidates. Though the BSP has drawn a blank and failed to win a single seat in Uttar Pradesh, it has polled around nine per cent of the votes. Incidentally, the BSP had failed to open its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well.

Mayawati's displeasure, voiced openly in the statement, was unambiguous. "The Muslim community, which is an important part of the Bahujan Samaj Party, is not able to understand the BSP properly despite being given proper representation in past elections and this time too in the Lok Sabha elections. So, in such a situation, the party will give them a chance in the elections after a lot of thought so that the party does not suffer such electoral reverses in future,” the statement said.

Reactions to her statement were mixed, with several Muslims questioning her motive in contesting elections and fielding Muslim candidates. Some openly accused her of fielding Muslim candidates to help the BJP and divide Opposition votes. “Isn’t it true that you have been selecting Muslim candidates at the behest of Amit Shah?” asked an indignant member of the community.

Both Dalits and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, they declared, had seen through her attempt to divide votes to help the BJP and foiled the plan by voting en masse for the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance.

Others thanked her for the decision and sarcastically added that it would be good for the community if she stopped giving party tickets to rich Muslims who conduct their business in Mumbai but contest elections in UP to help the BJP. “At least these rich Muslims will now be able to spend the money for the welfare of the community,” read one of the comments.

Another acerbic reaction wondered whether Mayawati had ever wondered why the party polled only nine per cent votes in a state where the Dalit population, which it claims to represent, is as high as 25 per cent.

Samajwadi Party sources recalled that after winning twice the number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in alliance with the SP, Mayawati still broke the alliance and accused Yadavs of not transferring the community votes to BSP candidates.

They claimed that SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had acted with exemplary restraint and had refused to react. Instructions were also issued to workers at all levels of the party not to comment on Mayawati. Even when the BSP chief used disparaging words for Akhilesh, he had refused to comment to the media, merely saying she was older than him and he called her bua (aunt).

During the 2022 Assembly elections, Akhilesh Yadav, they recalled, had asked people to vote for candidates who could defeat the BJP, choosing not to attack the BSP. It is this restraint, they claimed, which enabled Dalits in UP to make common cause with the party.

Mayawati’s statement has also redrawn attention to the controversial manner in which she had ordered her nephew and chosen political successor, Akash Anand, to withdraw from all election-related work, chiding him publicly as "politically immature" in the middle of the ongoing election.

The foreign-educated Anand had apparently been following Mayawati’s decision to maintain equi-distance between the BJP and Congress and was concentrating on rebuilding the party. He was mobilising Dalits to vote for the BSP and not other parties. It is widely believed that the mobilisation hurt the BJP in the first two rounds of polling, when Dalits who had voted for the BJP began shifting back to the BSP.

Former Union home minister Amit Shah’s influence is said to have prompted the decision to divest Anand of his responsibilities. The timing was bad, as after the third round of polling, the message that the BJP was looking at a two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution and deprive the Dalits of privileges guaranteed by the Constitution gained traction.

Her detractors cited the election result from Amroha, where sitting MP Danish Ali lost to the BJP by 30,000 votes. Ali had quit the BSP after Mayawati failed to condemn BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, who had abused and insulted Ali on the floor of Parliament with communal slurs. The BSP candidate polled 1.70 lakh votes, which is said to have cost Ali the election.  “Under Mayawati, BSP has become a ticket-selling enterprise…stop scapegoating Muslims, Mayawati ji,” commented a Muslim stung by the statement.

Her own partymen pledged support to her and vowed that they would keep working for the party, but could she please bring back Akash Anand and restore his position and responsibilities?

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines