Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati will hold a grand rally of Muslims, Thakurs and Vaishyas on December 18 in Lucknow as part of her campaign to replicate her sarvjan (all communities) formula of 2007. The BSP has already held two such rallies: a Brahmin rally, and a Dalit-OBCs rally. The pre-poll return to this formula comes after a perception that she had returned to her core Dalit base and sidelined the sarvjan idea.
Significantly, the BJP, too, is trying to get Thakur votes through Rajnath Singh and the Congress on Muslims through the promise of a separate 8% minorities’ quota within the 27% central OBC quota — a move that is also likely to create tension within the SP’s Yadav-Muslim base. The SP is looking to retain its OBC (with Yadav as the core) and Muslim votes.
Mayawati is specifically targeting Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, which, observers feel is a ploy to create an impression that her prime rival SP is out of the picture, and engineer a Muslim vote split that will marginally help Congress and heavily damage the SP.
Bhaichara Samitis — vehicles of Dalit outreach to other castes — are also back in action. “Bhaichara samitis have been activated once again in the last 1-1.5 years. Dalits too are solidly behind her, and this means that BSP’s candidates are likely to be most winnable,” said a UP official.
Mayawati’s core Dalit vote is 21% of UP’s population. It is this huge base that makes the BSP’s Brahmin (9%), Thakur (7.9%), Muslim (18%) and OBC candidates tend to gain: some in their own castes see them as more winnable than candidates from other parties, leading to a vote split in favour of the BSP.
Mayawati’s strategy is also to counter corruption charges by harping on graft charges against the central government and BJP governments in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. She has also got a resolution for splitting UP passed to divert the debate.
BSP sources insist the construction of statues in the memory of Dalit icons will work in her favour. She will also showcase her populist schemes like the Kanshi Ram Shehri Awas Yojana (giving two lakh houses to BPL families, half of them Dalit); a scheme to give Rs 25,000 plus bicycles for girls of BPL families who have passed school; and development work in Ambedkar (high Dalit population) villages. She can also showcase her ‘strong’ action against BSP politicians accused of crime and graft as an improvement over the SP regime’s perceived ‘criminal-friendliness’.