December 6, 2022

Amid Maya’s ‘disinterest’, which way will Dalit votes in UP go this time? | India News – Times of India

LUCKNOW: Which way will the Dalit votes go? That’s the big question that has attained much pertinence amid BJP and SP taking the pole positions even as BSP chief Mayawati remains conspicuous by her ground-level absence ahead of the high-stake Uttar Pradesh polls.
The general belief among political observers that Mayawati’s ‘disinterest’ may lead to flight of a section of BSP’s core voters has sent other claimants into an overdrive to woo the community that accounts for 21% of the voting population in UP.
While Dalits have traditionally backed BSP for the past three decades, the expected realignment of non-Yadav backward caste voters in the light of some OBC leaders’ defection from BJP to SP has also further accentuated the importance of the community.
BJP has been making strenuous attempts to consolidate the community by bringing it under the overarching umbrella of Hindutva besides reaching out to it through the various welfare schemes initiated by the Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state.
Analysts insist that Mayawati continues to rely heavily on the consolidation of Jatav sub-caste which accounts for around 55% of the total Dalit population. Experts said that Dalits had earlier been supportive of Congress until BSP emerged as a political force under the leadership of its founder Kanshi Ram in early 1990s.
The party underwent a makeover when Mayawati stormed to power with full majority for the first time in 2007 after implementing the social engineering formula, amalgamating Brahmins with Dalits. The Dalit leader has harked back to her tried and tested formula once again. Mayawati’s overpowering domination over Dalits, however, has been consistently challenged by BJP which has not only been rallying behind the popularity of PM Modi since 2014 Lok Sabha polls but has also been banking on a host of welfare measures that sought to cut through caste lines.
“One needs to understand the hidden message behind the party’s slogan, ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’,” said president of UP BJP SC/ST Morcha, Ram Chandra Kannaujia. “We have been trying to shatter the divide between the upper caste and the Dalit that has prevailed for ages,” he said, insisting that the steps like double ration during pandemic and Jan Aushadhi Scheme have enormous reverberation amongst the socio-economically oppressed classes.
BJP sources said that the party gave further traction to its Dalit outreach by holding special conventions in all 75 districts just before notification for the UP assembly polls was announced on January 8. This is apart the party’s plans to field Dalit candidates from the non-reserved seats – it has already fielded Jagpal Singh, a Dalit, from Saharanpur seat which goes to poll in the second phase. In fact, in the very first list of 107 candidates, BJP fielded 19 Dalits, of which 13 were Jatav, the Dalit sub-caste to which Mayawati belongs.
SP, nevertheless, has tried to match BJP overtures by poaching non-Yadav backward leaders, including the three ex-UP ministers – Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini. Experts said that Akhilesh has attempted to remake his party’s earlier image of being an outfit of Yadavs and Muslims. There is a belief in the party that inducting leaders from the more/most backward classes may bring Dalits closer to SP.
The SP chief not responding in an affirmative for an alliance with Dalit leader and chief of Azad Samaj Party, Chandra Shekhar, leaving him riled, too marked a pointed reframing of political scenario.

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