An early morning call jolted a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate from Maharajganj out of his slumber. As he sleepily answered the 5am call, the voice on the other side sternly asked: “Kya kar raha hai? Is samay to tujhe maidan mein hona chahiye (What are you doing? You should have been in the field at this hour).”
The caller was none other than chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party national president Mayawati who is known for her election management skills. Several caste groups have been meeting her. “A group of Kushwahas, Sainis and Shakyas met behenji the other day to pledge their support to the BSP,” a party functionary said.
Thus while the star campaigners of all the major political parties have already hit the road, Mayawati is busy doing poll management from her Mall Avenue residence here. She is not only taking feedback from party coordinators, but also from various other sources like the BAMCEF (The All India Backward SC, ST, OBC and Minority Communities Employees Federation), which many believe is lying redundant today.
“She has her own style of keeping tabs on party workers, coordinators and candidates,” said a senior official in her secretariat.
Apparently, she maintains thick registers of each district listing the party coordinators from the booth to the zonal level. In ascending order, the hierarchy is as follows— the crucial booth level committee will have a representative of every caste and community as their task is to remove differences with dalits at the ground level.
For every 10 booths, there is a sector level committee. Then there are the Vidhan Sabha, district and Lok Sabha committees followed by zonal coordinators.
Each member of these committees has a mobile phone number on which they can get a call directly from the party high command at any time of the day or night. Even the booth level worker remains alert as the party high command can ask for feedback at any hour.
Before embarking on a month-long campaign from February, she is busy tying up the loose ends. “Besides selection of the right candidate (read the right caste candidate) the BSP, a cadre-based party, concentrates on booth management so that every committed vote is polled on the D-day, said a party functionary adding, “behenji tolerates no laxity in this task at any level.”
Being her party’s only star campaigner, Mayawati will campaign in Punjab on January 21 and 22 and Uttarakhand on January 23 and 24. Thereafter, she will work on Uttar Pradesh, her political base. Sitapur, which goes to the polls in the first phase, will be her first destination on February 1. Her campaign ends at Lakhimpur Kheri on February 29. The entire effort involves 59 rallies in 29 days.
Much before the poll bugle was sounded, the BSP organised cadre camps all over the state from July to November-end.
Apparently, the party workers were given the target of mobilising 50 people (from every caste and community) for every camp and ensuring a minimum of 50% of them enrolled as members.
Alongside, the bhaichara samitis were working on knitting caste alliances. Maya has been monitoring their performances, issuing marching orders to non-performers. A senior leader like KK Gautam, zonal coordinator in Kanpur, was shunted to Tamil Nadu on January 14.
She doesn’t believe in going hi-tech as her voter is different. But there is a team of dalit writers, intellectuals and government servants who work behind the scenes for her.