The Modi blitzkrieg Friday destroyed the BSP, leaving Mayawati, who once harboured hopes of becoming India's first Dalit prime minister, without a single Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh.
In a verdict that sent the BSP in mourning, not one of its candidates could claim victory despite hectic campaigning by Mayawati and two of her trusted lieutenants: Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Satish Chandra Mishra. The Bahujan Samaj Party won 20 Lok Sabha seats in 2009.
But Election Commission data showed that the BSP had finished second in 33 of the 80 constituencies in the sprawling state. Having lost the 2012 assembly polls to arch rival Samajwadi party, the BSP was widely expected to bounce back in the Lok Sabha battle, largely owing to strong anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government. The results, party leaders admitted, were most unexpected.
"This is a body blow to us. We need to sit and do a post-mortem," a senior outgoing BSP MP who lost told IANS. But the writing was on the wall, and Mayawati had apparently read it in time. And the not-so-media savvy Mayawati addressed a flurry of pressers during the last 10 days of campaign, trying to make course corrections vis-a-vis the caste matrix and her captive Dalit vote bank. Aware that Dalits were being poached by BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Mayawati was jittery after the fourth phase when her feedback was that Dalits were flocking to Modi. Her second major constituency, Muslims, also failed to come to her rescue.
The BSP fared badly in the 2012 assembly polls largely because Muslims deserted her. The same was repeated in the Lok Sabha ballot as many Muslim voters felt that the BSP could join hands with the BJP later. The BSP fielded 17 Dalit candidates, 15 Other Backward Class candidates, 19 Muslims, 21 Brahmins and eight Thakurs. But her rainbow coalition that clicked in the 2007 assembly election did not find enough takers this time. The BSP took a serious drubbing in western Uttar Pradesh and Poorvanchal belt which have been traditionally with the party.
A gleeful BJP leader admitted that his party had succeeded in breaching the captive banks of both Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.