Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s throwing his hat into the ring from Azamgarh and high-pitched Muslim rhetoric have heavily cost the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as well as the Congress their political fortunes in eastern Uttar Pradesh. It is believed the presence of the SP chieftain and his campaign cost the BSP at least 10 seats that they were expecting to net from the region, rather checkmating the ‘communal BJP’, as Mulayam Singh had claimed.
Of the 28 seats in the region, the BSP had won nine in 2009, the SP seven, the Congress eight, and the BJP just three seats. With the Congress’ fortunes dwindling, insiders in the BSP say they are expecting to return with 15-18 seats from this region alone.
The BSP holds Mulayam’s decision to contest the elections from Azamgarh in this region responsible for the split of secular votes, which has helped the BJP get at least 10 additional seats from this region. With religious polarisation breaking caste barriers, it appears that the core BSP votes were driven to the BJP in order to defeat the SP candidates. “It seems the SP had entered into a tacit understanding with the BJP in this region as they did in Lucknow, believing that all is fair in love and war,” a BSP leader alleged.
Sources say as a last minute tactic to give Mulayam a taste of his own medicine, a BSP functionary was sent to Pratgarh, Faizabad, Basti, Deoria and Azamgarh to ensure the votes were transferred to the BJP, rather than to Mulayam, who, like Mayawati, also harbours prime ministerial aspirations, or playing a central role in Delhi.
Thus, in the egocentric politics of the three secular parties – the SP, the BSP and the Congress – the BJP will likely emerge a clear winner. Sources say the SP had deliberately competed with the BJP, instigating religious polarisation to push the Hindus as a bloc towards the BJP and dent the prospects of the rival BSP as well as the Congress. There was already a guessing game on why the SP engaged in high-pitched Muslim rhetoric. Azam Khan’s loose tongue in an already polarised UP saw a direct fight between the BJP and the BSP.
On the other hand, the SP didn’t engage in the polarisation game in central UP, a strong Yadav bastion. But when this region went to polls, the Muslim pitch became palpable, as the BSP-hopeful turf of the Lucknow region and then eastern UP went to polls. Eastern UP has traditionally been vulnerable to polarisation and Mulayam’s tricks did puzzle many who were banking on consolidation of secular votes.
In eastern UP, the BSP had hoped to add Brahmins and a chunk of Muslims to its arsenal of Dalits and most backwards votes. Mayawati won a good number of seats here in 2009, but the polarisation worked to her party’s disadvantage and in favour of the Modi-led BJP.