Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo has no love and all hate for the grand old party of Indian Politics — The Indian National Congress. Recently, while holding a joint press conference with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, she spelt out her reasons for this. Mayawati claimed that her experience told her that the vote of the BSP was indeed a transferable lot but there was no point in allying with the Congress as the vote of the latter was not transferable to the BSP.
Most probably, she was referring to the 1996 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in which BSP had an alliance with the Congress for the 424-seat strong house. (This was an election when Uttarakhand had not been formed and after the formation of the hill state, Uttar Pradesh is left with a house of 403 seats). Both parties fared badly and while BSP could win 67 seats, Congress bagged only 33. Later, Mayawati formed the government with the BJP which had won 174 seats.
Going down the history of Uttar Pradesh politics, one is reminded of its first Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant who was sworn in on January 26, 1950 and the last was Narain Dutt Tiwari who exited office on December 5, 1989. This sounded the death knell for the Congress in the Hindi-heartland of Uttar Pradesh and till date, the party has continued to lose ground in the state.
The backbone of the Congress party was the combination of the upper caste vote base combined by the Dalit vote bank and the minority (Muslim) vote base. But with time and weakening of the party, the vote base also corroded. The upper caste, comprising the Brahmins, Thakurs and Vaishyas shifted their allegiance to the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Yadavs and Muslims moved towards Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and the Dalit vote base was captured by Mayawati’s mentor Kanshiram.
This was not a sudden phenomenon. Kanshiram formed the BSP in April 1984 and started working hard on grabbing the Dalit vote base since day one of the inception of the party. Mulayam Singh Yadav formed Samajwadi Party much later in 1992 and the Yadav voter came to him automatically. The confused Muslim voter, who did not find refuge either with the BJP or the BSP, also found solace in under the shadow of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was later even called “Mullah Mulayam”.
Divided vote base
This deep dive in the politics of the state shows that how the entire vote base of the undisputed ruler of Uttar Pradesh – the Congress Party, was divided into three parts. Therefore, the rise of the Congress in the state could spell trouble for the BSP, BJP and the Samajwadi Party. Ideologically, Congress and the BJP cannot ever come in terms with each other. But to keep the BJP out of power, the BSP, Samajwadi Party and the Congress can be termed as natural allies.
Before the Mahagathbandhan was being formed in the state ahead of 2019 general election, speculations were rife that the three parties would come together to decimate the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Even Akhilesh Yadav was in favour of this and Congress President Rahul Gandhi was also quite hopeful of forming an anti-BJP alliance. Uttar Pradesh is said to be the power corridor to Delhi as it gives 80 Lok Sabha seats, the most as compared to any state in the country.
But why did Mayawati put her foot down! Because of her experience with the Congress in 1996? Does not seem to be so as the BSP also fared quite poorly with just 67 seats. With the rise of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, who suffers the most? The obvious answer is that the two losers would be the BJP in terms of upper caste votes and the BSP in terms of the Dalit vote bank. (As per the 2011 census, there are 20.2 percent of Dalit voters in U.P.).
As far as the Samajwadi Party goes, it is confident that its strong MY (Muslim-Yadav) combine is here to stay with it and will not by any chance, shift its allegiance to any party. In 2018, by-elections to Gorakhpur, Phoolpur and Kairana Parliamentary seats and Noorpur Assembly seat, Akhilesh Yadav very smartly did experiment, by keeping the Congress at bay, just to divert the upper caste vote from the BJP.
The result was a clear clean sweep to the opposition and a blank to the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Going by the success in these four by-elections, Akhilesh pitched hard to bring Congress into the Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh. But clearly, nervous of the rise of the Congress and dent to her Dalit vote base, Mayawati, categorically said a big NO NO to the Congress, not only for Uttar Pradesh but for anywhere in the country!