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Mayawati’s shrinking political space

by | Mar 10, 2022 | Uttar Pradesh 2022

With the dismal showing at the hustings of Bahujan Samaj Party, the longevity of the Dalit party and the political journey of its supremo has all but come to an end.
"Mayawati at the news stand" by counterclockwise is marked with CC BY 2.0.

A politically significant aspect brought out in the early trends of the Uttar Pradesh assembly results: The growing irrelevance of four term chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati.

Trends are that the BSP’s strength in the 403 member assembly will get reduced to 4 – at par with the projected wins for the Congress.

Mayawati’s political graph has been on a constant decline: The BSP’s vote share fell from 30.43 percent in the 2007 UP elections to 25.91 percent in 2012 to 22.2 percent in the previous 2017 assembly elections. Going by the early trends, it is probable that the BSP’s vote share will fall below the 15 percent mark in this election.

A important factor that explains the BJP’s big win in Western UP as also in the state’s Eastern belt – earlier considered bastions of the BSP – has apparently been this: The shifting of Mayawati’s support base among the non-Jatav voters, as also amongst the Jatavs – her own caste that had consistently remained loyal to her even at the peak of the BJP’s Hindutva movement in the previous 2017 elections.

Early estimates are that 38 percent of “Jatavs” and 85 percent of the non-Jatav voters moved away from the BSP and aligned with the BJP. The BSP supremo – earlier considered a Prime Ministerial candidate- has evidently come to confront the biggest challenge of her political career.

With the BJP cruising to a comfortable majority on its own, Mayawati’s desire to emerge the kingmaker has also been dashed. At this point in time, Mayawati seems to have little option but to align with the ruling coalition as a NDA partner. The bigger question is: What does the future hold for the politics of Dalit empowerment in India?

Originally published in Pixstory.

Srinanda Jha
Srinand Jha
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Journalist by accident, rail, travel and political buff by choice - dissenter by compulsion. Interested in policy and governance.