Varanasi (UP), May 16: Amid the hyped conflict and political violence between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee, many in Prime Minister’s parliamentary turf Varanasi believe its ‘underdog’ Mayawati of BSP who can really give a tough fight to the BJP and impact its Lok Sabha tally.In 2004 too – citizens in the ancient city say – the real difference in electoral tally in favour of the saffron party could happen only after “the Modi wave crushed the Dalit and OBC vote bank”.
“Such a phenomenon resulted in BSP’s decline both in 2014 and later in 2017 Assembly polls,” says Sushanto Chakraborty, a Varanasi-based educationist who runs a coaching centre.Discussing West Bengal politics, especially in the context of violence in Kolkata and vandalising of social reformer and educationist Iswhar Chandra Vidyasagar's statue, he says, “In more ways than one, the continuing saga of violence in West Bengal, including the stone throwing on candidates reflect not only state machinery failure.
It talks about the continuance of Left days and the violent pre-Left days in Bengal.’
However, analysing it on national perspective, he maintains, “One is not sure how many seats, BJP will win in Bengal. But the perceived Modi wave will fall flat only if BSP chief Mayawati in UP can retain her hold over Dalits and a large section of minority voters.”
Endorsing his views, a Congress worker Salim Khan says, 'The real challenge in UP politics is that BJP’s aggressive campaign to woo non-Yadav OBCS and non-Jatav smaller castes have worked on ground in 2014 and 2017. The same game is on in 2019. That way in caste games only party which can fight BJP is the BSP”.This is because BSP's support base include a large number of smaller caste groups besides the Dalits. The social engineering of bringing Dalits and Brahmins had paid her dividends in 2007 Assembly polls as well.
The ‘decline’ of Mayawati’s hold in recent times – says political commentator Adarsh Pandey, a local newspaper columnist - helped BJP in 2014 to “rediscover” the ground that it had lost in 1990s.However, he cautions in as many words that somehow the ‘image’ of Narendra Modi had resulted in “polarisation of Muslims” against him (and also the BJP) and thus had consolidated the Hindu votes against Samajwadi Party and BSP.
Prem Baghel, a local resident near temple Ghat here, says – “BJP has ensured a rare unity of purpose of OBCs and Extremely Backward Class (EBCs) and this had helped the saffron party”.In this context, citizens say in fact the “rise of Kanshi Ram and BSP as a phenomenon” in UP politics was also a BJP creation. It harmed Congress initially, which was seen as a unifier.
“But at a later stage, it almost destroyed BJP in 1990s and many believe propping up Mayawati as Chief Minister orchestrated by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Kanshi Ram meet for six-month power share in 1990s was a blunder for the saffron outfit,” says Sushil Anand, another resident here.Even sources close to Samajwadi Party candidate Shalini Yadav in Varanasi admit in many places – the BSP has able to give fight to the BJP “more seriously” than other constituents of the Mahagatbandhan..
In many constituencies in eastern Uttar Pradesh, a large section of Muslim and smaller caste groups people (such as Nais, Dhobis and Telis) have decided to back BSP because they do not trust BJP.“However, in many places, the same anti-BJP voters may not find the two other alternative parties Samajwadi and Congress acceptable.People believe while Congress is weak, they continue to see Samajwadi Party regime as a dispensation that encouraged goondaism,” says Gorakhpur-based teacher Pramod Pal.
It is this concept that makes BJP leader in Varanasi Ashok Pandey to comment, “Any Dalit and Muslim, who have faced Dadagiri of Yadavs in rural pockets will never go to the Mahagatbandhan again. A large section of these voters will come to the BJP kitty”.
The BJP is certainly eyeing two obvious things to happen in eastern UP voting pattern – one – split in Muslim and Dalit votes and secondly the consolidation of non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav smaller caste groups in its favour.Such smaller caste groups include Domri, Lodh, Gadhel and Nai among others.
“The smaller caste groups were traditionally deprived by Mayawati and also SP’s Yadav-hegemony. They even did not like pampering of Muslims by Mulayam Singh Yadav. So they in Modi someone to set the past wrong right,” says Varanasi-based Ram Kakushta, a shop keeper.No wonder, local BJP booth workers in key politics hubs like Azamgarh and Varanasi say therefore the effort is on to win over and retain hold on caste groups like Binds, Mallahs, Mauryas and Kushwahas too. (UNI)