Can Yogi Adityanath’s Dalit quota demand in AMU derail Opposition’s Dalit-Muslim formula?

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New Delhi | Published: June 26, 2018 3:21:21 PM

Yogi Adityanath appears to have kicked off an interesting cat-and-mouse game in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

yogi adityanath ram templeAyodhya: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath lights the lamp during a function to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ram Janam Bhoomi Trust President Nritya Gopal Das, in Ayodhya on Monday, June 25, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Yogi Adityanath appears to have kicked off an interesting cat-and-mouse game in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019. It has almost become apparent that 2019 elections in Uttar Pradesh will not be fought on personalities, principles or ideology but on the basis of clever caste calculus. The one with a better formula will manage to grab most of Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha seats, and may even become the king or kingmaker in Delhi.

The recent developments in Uttar pradesh have brought to fore two major groups that will be main contenders – the ruling BJP and allies versus Samajwadi Party+Bahujan Samaj Party. The Congress is likely to be on the margins in battleground Uttar Pradesh, content with fighting just a few seats.

The opposition is banking on consolidation of Dalit and Muslim votes in their favour. While Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi party will pitch in with its Yadav votebank, the success of the alliance will depend on how Mayawati’s BSP manages to keep its Dalit votebank intact, for majority of Muslims in UP have traditionally voted for BSP as well as SP.

In 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, BJP had made deep inroads into Mayawati’s Dalits and Akhilesh’s OBC votebank. This resulted in a landslide victory for the saffron party. However, with the coming together of SP and BSP, the challenge for the BJP is bigger than it appears. A glimpse of this was seen in Kairana Lok Sabha by-election recently when Muslims and Dalits voted enmasse for the alliance-backed candidate – Tabassum Hasan of the Rashtirya Lok Dal.

Muslims make up about 19% of the total electorate in Uttar Pradesh. As per ECI, in 2017 Assembly elections, both SP and BSP together polled 47% votes in 59 constituencies of the state where Muslims constitute a quarter of the total voters. Data show this pattern has almost remain unchanged since 2012. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, total vote of SP+BSP in these constituencies was 43%. Dalits make up around 21% population of Uttar Pradesh. In 2017, BSP scored 24% votes in all 85 reserved seats in the state, the BJP managed 40% of the total votes.

In the season of elections, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the BJP tries to counter the opposition’s Dalit+Muslim formula. Uttar pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath did this with elan on Sunday by raking up an issue that is likely to counter the opposition’s narrative that BJP is an anti-Dalit party.

At an event in Kannauj, Adityanath demanded reservation benefits for Dalit and backward students in institutions like Aligarh Muslim University or Jamia Millia Islamia. He said if Dalit and backward students get this facility in BHU then why can’t they get the same at AMU or Jamia.

“A question needs to put to the people who claim Dalits are being humiliated as to when they will speak out for extending reservations to our Dalit brothers in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia,” PTI quoted Adityanath as saying.

While the matter of reservation for Dalits at AMU is sub-judice, in the Supreme Court, Yogi Adityanath has hit at the core of the opposition’s vote arithmetic. And though the matter of quota in AMU is of little significance, the silence of the SP or BSP leadership on the chief minister’s statement in the last two days should not be seen as a mere coincidence.

The Congress did react, not by answering Adityanath’s question but by brushing it aside as a “jumla”. Ashok Singh, UP Congress spokesperson, told PTI: “This (statement by Adityanath) is simply a ‘jumla’, and can be termed a gimmick. If the UP chief minister is so bothered about the welfare of Dalits, then why is there a rise in crimes against them.”

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