BSP supremo Mayawati formally kicked off her party’s Lok Sabha election campaign with a huge rally here on Wednesday which also happened to be her birthday. In a rare deviation from yesteryears, the Dalit icon did not celebrate her birthday in an opulent style in view of the recent Muzaffarnagar riots. Though she didn’t cut any cake, she did tear into her rivals, the Congress, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Mayawati used the rally to particularly reach out to Muslim voters on the Muzaffarnagar issue. She also made a call for uniting Dalit voters nationwide. Virtually in the same breath, she also called upon her party to garner upper caste votes describing them as crucial. She even stressed the need for reservations to poor upper castes.
The fact is that the Dalit leader is desperate for a good show in the Lok Sabha elections after losing badly in the 2012 UP assembly elections. The BSP cadre is also demoralised over the party’s poor showing in the recent assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh. The BSP had won 17 seats in these states in 2008 but its tally was reduced to eight this time. It didn’t win a single seat in Delhi.
The BSP has also lost out on the Brahmins’ backing which was a crucial factor for her handsome victory in 2007. Her social engineering formula fell by the wayside as her government failed to do anything concrete for the upper castes during its five-year rule. The party’s dilemma over Muzaffarnagar riots distanced the BSP from the Muslims. The party reacted very late to the riots and the mismanagement in the relief camps. Also, she did not visit Muzaffarnagar. Mayawati is now desperate to cobble up a Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim combination which could ensure a dignified place for her in national politics.
“I want the BSP to emerge as the balance of power at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election. This will stop the communal forces from taking over,” she said at the rally. She knows that only a strong Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim votebank would help her hold that “balance of power”.
Mayawati accused the BJP of using the CBI against her in the Taj Heritage Corridor (THC) case, alleging that the saffron party wanted to have an alliance with the BSP in UP for the 2004 general elections, a proposal she had struck down.
The BSP chief also did not mince words against the Congress and asserted that her party would contest the Lok Sabha elections alone. “There are media reports of a Congress-BSP electoral alliance. But I want to make it very clear, we will contest alone,” she said.
Clearly, Mayawati wants to distance herself from the Congress and the UPA regime which seems to have earned popular wrath over corruption, price rise and lack of good governance. The BSP has stood by the UPA and came to its aid during difficult times in Parliament. But that was till the CBI probe into Mayawati’s disproportionate assets was on. With the Supreme Court having struck down that probe, the Dalit leader can now chart the course on her own.
Evidence of this new-found freedom was on display at the rally as Mayawati challenged and slammed the Congress along with the BJP and the SP.