Mayawati’s decision to quit the Rajya Sabha over an issue related to Dalits is unlikely to catapult her back as the undisputed leader of her community in Uttar Pradesh. BSP leaders in Uttar Pradesh, apparently taken aback at the decision, feel that it could misfire. “It is like flogging a dead horse. The Saharanpur incident is almost two months old and the Bhim Army that had emerged as a force to reckon with during the caste clashes in May this year, has also flopped back into anonymity. The resignation at this stage is not going to earn us brownie points,” said a senior leader on the condition of anonymity.
Party sources also feel that despite speculation, Mayawati may not contest a Lok Sabha byelection in UP.
“There are reports that she could contest the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat that will be vacated by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya since he is obliged to get elected to the state legislature within the next two months. Though Mayawati is not exactly afraid of facing direct elections, she will be uncomfortable in the Lok Sabha—if she wins the bypoll— as the lone BSP member,” said a former BSP leader.
However, there are talks that there may be no by-election on the Phulpur seat because Maurya, who is said to be waging a cold war with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, may be moved out of state politics and accommodated as a Central minister in the next reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government.
The SP and the Congress, meanwhile, will extend their support to Mayawati if there is a byelection and she decides to contest it.
In that scenario, the BSP president will score a point and will be able to justify her decision.
Sources said that Mayawati was also hopeful of getting another stint in the Rajya Sabha next year with support from the Samajwadi Party and the Congress—this will be the first test of the proposed grand alliance for 2019 among the three parties.
While the Congress, which has just seven members in the state Assembly, could offer support to the BSP president, the SP leadership is still unsure of the same. “We have 47 votes and we have to re-nominate leaders like Kiranmoy Nanda, Naresh Agarwal and Jaya Bachchan. It is unlikely that we will be in a position to offer any votes to the BSP,” said an SP leader, known for his proximity to party president Akhilesh Yadav.
The BSP, which has lost three successive elections in 2012 (Assembly) , 2014 (Lok Sabha) and the recent 2017 Assembly elections and has also faced the depletion of its second rung leaders from the party, is desperate to rejuvenate itself and emerge as a front runner in state politics.
A senior political analyst said, “The decision that Mayawati took in July, should have been taken in May when the caste clashes were taking place. The impact of her decision now will be negligible. Moreover, she needs to step out of her home and reach out physically to her community, which is facing atrocities at the hands of the upper castes in the form of cow vigilantes. This is the only route that can help her revive her party.”
Swami Prasad Maurya, a former BSP leader who is now a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, said, “The time for tricks is over and her desperation is clearly showing. The resignation will not turn her into a messiah of Dalits because Dalits have seen her true face. Now that we (BJP) have made a Dalit the President of India, no one can accuse us of being anti-Dalit.”