Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is working on a two-pronged strategy to counter the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance.
First, she will set her party’s campaign rolling in west UP by addressing public meetings in Meerut and Aligarh on Wednesday. Second, senior BSP leaders have been tasked with creating dissension in the SP-Congress ranks in east UP.
Ignoring Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s praise of her, Mayawati has launched an attack on the SP-Congress alliance.
Mayawati will address two public meetings in west UP daily. A senior BSP leader said, “Both Akhilesh and Rahul will be Behenji’s targets during rallies in west UP. The BSP has been meticulously working on a Dalit-Muslim formula in the Rohilkhand region of west UP. She plans to thwart the efforts of the alliance to make a dent in the Muslim votebank.”
In her public meetings, the BSP chief will raise issues like displacement of the Muslims during the Muzaffarnagar communal violence, inaction against the BJP leaders who are raising the Kairana exodus issue, division of Muslim votes and the failure of the SP government to fulfil the promises made to Muslims. She will also corner the Congress over the Moradabad and Meerut riots that took place in the 1980s when the Congress was in power both at the centre and in the state.
Apart from showcasing the schemes launched for the welfare of Muslims by the BSP government (2007-12), she will tell the Muslims that she has given maximum tickets (100) to community members.
The BSP had failed to open its account in Meerut and Aligarh in 2012 assembly polls.
The BSP’s Muslim face Naseemudin Siddiqui has addressed Muslim ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood) meetings in all the 73 assembly constituencies going to polls in the first phase on February 11.
EAST UP STRATEGY
In east UP, the BJP chief’s loyalists will be on a mission to win over the SP and Congress leaders who are upset over the alliance or have been sidelined. Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ambika Chaudhary, considered a close aide of SP patron Maulayam Singh Yadav, has already joined the BSP.
To consolidate the BSP’s hold on Muslims in east UP, Mayawati opened the party’s doors to gangster-turned- politician Mukhtar Ansari and his family. She merged Mukhtar’s party QED with the BSP and gave a ticket to his son and brother.
When Akhilesh and Rahul were busy with their roadshow on Sunday, former minister and sitting SP MLA from Ballia Narad Rai was holding a secret meeting with Mayawati. Rai joined the BSP and was declared a candidate from Ballia.
By taking Rai on board, Mayawati wishes to pacify the Bhumihars who have influence in pockets of east UP. She had denied tickets to Bhumihar candidates, Manoj Rai and Vinod Rai, to accommodate the Ansaris.
The resentment among the Bhumihar community was palpable as Mukhtar is accused in the murder of BJP leader Krishnanand Rai. Looking to cash in on the anger among the community, Vinod Rai announced he will contest the election as an independent candidate. The BSP hopes that Narad Rai will win over the support of Bhumihars.
Sources said sitting SP MLAs Shadab Fatima, Vijay Kumar Mishra and several senior Congress leaders are in contact with BSP leaders, awaiting the green light from Mayawati to switch sides.
A senior BSP leader, who does not wish to be named, told HT that the Congress collected applications of ticket aspirants from east UP. A majority of them launched their election campaign with the start of Rahul Gandhi’s ‘khat sabha’ in Deoria in September last year. They were disillusioned after the SP-Congress pact, he said.
“We have directed the district units, assembly committees and booth committees to win the support of dissidents,” he said.
A political observer Ratnesh Kumar said, “East UP is the SP’s citadel. The SP won the maximum seats in east UP in 2012 and formed the government with a majority. The BSP failed to win seats in Faizabad, Gonda, Balrampur, Deoria, Siddharth Nagar, Mau, Ghazipur and Ambedkar Nagar districts.”
“Mayawati is working on the caste arithmetic as well as disenchantment in the SP-Congress camp to bag seats in East UP, popularly known as the Purvanchal region,” he said.