Mayawati’s hopes of playing a crucial national role have been dashed.
Her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has not only failed to impress much in Uttar Pradesh (UP) but managed just one seat — Rewa in Madhya Pradesh — outside the state.
Though the party’s UP tally of 20 is marginally higher than what it got (19) in 2004, it has failed to live up to the great expectations it had generated after the assembly elections in the state in 2007. Then, it had swept half the state. Two years on, it has bagged just a fourth of the seats.
What’s worse, it has had to compete not just with the Samajwadi Party but with the Congress too, which was almost non-existent in Uttar Pradesh for the last two decades.
In other states, the BSP lost out in bipolar tussles that left little space for a third force. It fought these elections on its own, despite being wooed by the third front.
In 2004 too the BSP had contested 435 seats, more than the Congress and BJP. The aim was to scale new heights on its own. The plan had failed then too.
While it had got 24 per cent of the votes in UP, its vote share elsewhere had ranged between 0.49 per cent (Kerala) and 7.57 per cent (Punjab).
This time, in UP, there was a clear anti-incumbency sentiment working against the BSP.
“Mayawati has not delivered much on development, and only identity politics cannot take you too far,” said political scientist Sudha Pai. “Even Dalits think she is spending lavishly only on memorials.”
Our field trips in UP hinted at this too.
“There is a lot of corruption under the BSP government, and there is little development,” said P.P. Chauhan of Mainpuri.
Sartaj of Moradabad said: “Many are with the BSP because of self-interest or compulsion. Few have their hearts with the party.”
The fall, however, is more dramatic than expected.
The upper castes — some of whom had voted for the party in the 2007 elections — seem to have steered clear of the BSP. So too have large sections of Muslims — despite Mayawati’s attempt to woo them by booking the BJP’s candidate from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi under the National Security Act.
“Mayawati is not trustworthy. She may ally with the BJP after the polls,” said Mohammad Naim of Aligarh.
An official told the Hindustan Times there had been articles in the Urdu press about this possibility.