The acrimony in ruling Samajwadi Party ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections appears to have all the ingredients to change the electoral prospects of key players.
Beleaguered Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has a support base among the middle class and Yadav voters, but which party the Muslims back could determine the outcome of the elections due early next year.
The crisis in the SP is being keenly watched by BSP which expects to gain most in the present scenario.
BSP has been able to consolidate Muslim electors in its support in the past too, despite SP being the main claimant to their votes.
Muslims account for around 12 per cent of the electorate and are a force to reckon with.
BSP chief Mayawati had started her poll campaign asking the Muslim community to vote for her as supporting SP could benefit BJP.
Analysts say her campaign coupled with the spree of attacks by ‘gau rakshak’ (cow vigilantes) on Muslims and Dalits have strongly polarised the electorate. With the ruling Samajwadi Party a divided house, the BSP would hope the Muslims would overwhelmingly vote for the party in order to prevent a split in minority votes which would benefit the BJP.
BSP is also wooing Brahmins with party leader S C Misra, himself a Brahmin, reminding the voters that during Mayawati’s stint in power key administrative posts were held by members of that caste.
Muslims have backed Mulayam for decades, but the infighting in SP ahead of its silver jubilee celebrations only means the party, whoever is at the helm, will have to manage this crucial vote bank shrewdly in the run up to the polls just few months away.
The development has become a matter of worry for BJP as well. It has reasons to get worried because if Muslims shift their alleigance to BSP, it might upset the saffron party’s applecart.