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No 2007 repeat, but Maya tally to rise

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will do better this year than it did in 2004, when it won 19 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats. But it is unlikely to live up to its own performance in the 2007 assembly polls. The 217 seats it won then translate into 43 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

delhi Updated: May 14, 2009 02:04 IST
Vikas Pathak

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will do better this year than it did in 2004, when it won 19 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats. But it is unlikely to live up to its own performance in the 2007 assembly polls. The 217 seats it won then translate into 43 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Despite the added advantage of being in power in the state this time — unlike in 2004 — the BSP is not expected to attract the different sections of voters it had done in 2007.

While its core Dalit support remains intact — and indeed has been growing over the years — question marks have arisen over the support of other sections of the population. The party’s hopes of increased Muslim support stem from the Samajwadi Party’s decision to ally with Kalyan Singh, who was the BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished, but has now quit the party.

It is a decision against which many Muslims, who earlier backed the SP, have spoken out openly. Field reports indicate, however, that though unhappy, not all Muslims are willing to abandon the SP just yet. Their vote is splitting between the BSP, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

“Mayawati is not reliable; she may ally with the BJP after the polls,” said Shakir Khan, 44, of Aligarh, famed for its Aligarh Muslim University. Added Jamal Siddiqui, 35, who runs a CD shop in Etah: “The UP government is not functioning well. There is lots of corruption.”

Similarly Brahmins may have voted for the BSP in the assembly polls, but the community’s mood now seems largely anti-BSP. “The BSP’s performance has not been up to the mark,” said Prashant Dubey, a Mainpuri-based 31-year-old cloth merchant. The caste may vote heavily for the BJP this time.