BJP’s Operation BSP round the corner after strike on SP, TDP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati Home Minister Amit Shah. - The Federal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati and Home Minister Amit Shah.

After the successful surgical strike on Samajwadi Party (SP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Rajya Sabha, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has now trained its guns on MPs of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

At least four of the party’s 10 Lok Sabha MPs are in touch with senior BJP leaders and are planning a cross over soon. This could be a major blow for Mayawati and the BSP which had increased its tally from zero to 10 MPs from 2014 to the 2019 polls.

The coup within the BSP is being engineered and led by a powerful MP from western Uttar Pradesh, who is an OBC leader and one of the wealthiest candidates to have contested and won the 2019 polls.

Options before rebel MPs

The first and simple option before the BSP MPs is to resign from their respective seats and seek re-election from their constituencies on a BJP ticket. Jumping directly to the saffron party would attract disqualification provisions under the anti-defection law for legislators, as they are only four MPs out of the 10 from the party in Lok Sabha. They would need two more fellow MPs to join

The second option is that the rebel MPs defy party whip and are expelled from the party. In this case, the rebel MPs do not have to seek re-election and are allotted separate seating area in the House. But the second option seems far-fetched and sources say the rebel MPs are more than willing to seek re-election on a BJP ticket as they fancy better chances as candidates of the saffron party.

Mission Social Re-engineering

Buoyed by the partial success in the Lok Sabha elections, which took BSP from zero to 10 MPs, BSP supremo snapped ties with the Samajwadi Party and walked out of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance). She said the BSP would go alone in the bypolls for the 12 Assembly seats in the state. And now she is trying to shuffle her pack with an aim to bring about a social engineering which gave her a huge success in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

She recently appointed an MP from Other Backward Classes (OBC), Shyam Singh Yadav as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha, replacing Amroha MP Danish Ali.

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But people with knowledge of inside matters say that the real motive behind removing Danish Ali from the post of leader of the party in the Lok Sabha were his objections to the triple talaq legislation or the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, and the abrogation of Article 370 provisions for Jammu and Kashmir. Ali had refused to toe Mayawati’s line in the lower house.

Party leaders say that Mayawati is following its policy of ‘Sarvajan Hitaaye, Sarvajan Sukhaaye’ (Welfare of All) by giving greater representation to OBCs. She had also appointed Ambedkar Nagar MP Ritesh Pandey as the party’s deputy leader in the House in an apparent move to please the upper caste Brahmin voters of the state.

“Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the country, and as a result, there was a need to make some state-level changes in the organisation,” the party said in a statement.

But will these efforts of social engineering be of any use if there is defection in the party even before the by polls in Uttar Pradesh and the BSP is reduced to a single digit party in Lok Sabha. It will be interesting to see how the BSP supremo manages to keep her flock together in the season of defections.

(Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor – Politics with Business Television India (BTVI))