Going into the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, the biggest hurdle to BJP and Amit Shah’s ambitious idea of capturing the state was going to win over the dDalitseats. The Jatav community alone, to which BSP leader Mayawati belongs accounts for 55% of the Dalit population the state according to the 2011 Census. Most people believed that the only way to win these seats would by pitching candidates from the same community. However, Amit Shah had different ideas and beautifully constructed the strategy for Bharatiya Janata Party’s win.
Surprisingly, he fielded Jatav candidates in only 21 seats out of 85 such constituencies. Meanwhile, it set aside another 49 seats for other Dalit communities such as Paswan, Dhobi, Kori, Balmiki, and Khatik. On the other hand, Mayawati who has survived in UP over the years with her Dalit vote bank fielded 87 such candidates. On the other hand, the SP-Congress alliance thinking that these seats will certainly go to BSP focused more on non-Jatav seats.
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However, the final results revealed a massive loss for Bahujan Samaj Party in these seats as the total tally of seats came down from 80 in 2012 to 19 in 2017. There were many reasons for this loss starting from BSP giving tickets to non-Dalit candidates to unfulfilled promises that forced the Dalits to look towards other options.
Also, Mayawati took these votes for granted. After losing the elections she came out and said the fact that BJP got all the Muslim votes shows that there was a problem with the EVM machines. It was a statement made out of pure agitation by a leader whose pride was crushed on Saturday as her party now faces an existential crisis. In 2017, people might have finally moved above caste and religion. Only one time will tell if they have made the right choice by voting in favour of BJP but one thing is for sure that this was a huge blow for Mayawati and a massive victory for Amit Shah and his strategies