Will Mayawati defeat BJP in 2019? Why the Bahujan Samaj Party who drew a blank in the 2014 poll not thinking of number of seats for the upcoming elections.
In any other country, indeed even in India for anyone but the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), it would have been laughable to harbour aspirations for the top job in the country for its leader given it drew a blank in the last test of the nation’s will, which was the 2014 General Election. Yet, serious students of politics and pundits alike, not to mention political parties, are united in taking Mayawati-for-PM slogans that began to be raised after Opposition unity moves gathered pace in the wake of the Gujarat Assembly election and shifted up a further gear after the Uttar Pradesh/heartland States Lok Sabha by-polls rather seriously. Even Mayawati herself, though she expelled a senior party leader on Tuesday for making disparaging remarks (regarding her foreign origins) about the leader (Sonia Gandhi) of another Opposition political party (Congress), was silent on the leader’s push — supported by other senior BSP leaders — for her to be declared as the Opposition’s combined candidate for the post of Prime Minister of India going into the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Neither did Mayawati object when Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, he of tragedy king fame, announced at his swearing-in ceremony in Bangalore attended by a galaxy of Opposition leaders a couple of months ago that Mayawati was his choice for Prime Minister in 2019. All this, despite the BSP having zero out of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and, in the only State where it has been in power in the past which is Uttar Pradesh, having won a grand total of 19 seats in the 404-member legislature in the 2017 State poll.
So, what makes her a serious candidate for the top job whom every politician whether in the ruling party or the Opposition is wary of? Sure, the BSP was the “third-most voted party in the country” after the BJP and Congress in 2014. And yes, it did poll 22 per cent of the vote in the 2017 UP Assembly election. But, frankly, we can think of other parties which, provided they had the resources to match the BSP’s, could have put up candidates in nearly all Lok Sabha seats and managed to boast of being the third-most voted party in the country. Equally, to garner just above one-fifth of the popular vote in Uttar Pradesh, which for all its importance is just one State in our huge country, while a decent electoral performance, has limited meaning in a first-past-the-post system. The 22 seats the BSP won in the 2017 Assembly poll is more or less a fair representation of its albeit overwhelming support among a particular section of the population of one State which too is being nibbled at by the BJP.
Mayawati understands all this far better than better than both her political adversaries and her potential allies — she knows the BSP brings to the table in 2019 only the threat of being a spoiler for the Opposition in UP and couple of other heartland States. Plus, the optics of having a prominent Dalit leader on board are vital for an anti-BJP alliance. Nothing if not a political maximalist, her performance-to-reward ratio may be skewed but if allies are willing, why not?
Courtesy: The Pioneer