Most worrisome, for Mayawati and BSP, is the ruling BJP and Modi's overwhelming focus on the Dalit vote bank.
Mayawati resigned from Rajya Sabha in a dramatic, yet, an action-packed show of events. The resignation which came about as a result of her protest on not being allowed to speak on atrocities against Dalits and Saharanpur clashes. From a larger perspective, it was the only option left for the Dalit leader who has been continuously losing her ground ever since she lost power in Uttar Pradesh in 2012. BSP’s current position is indeed worrisome. The numbers – a blank in Lok Sabha, and 19 in UP Vidhan Sabha – indeed put a question mark on its very existence and relevance for a party which has ruled India’s biggest state in four different terms. Plus, a complete lack of strategy and corruption charges send party’s fortune in doldrums. But most worrisome, for Mayawati and BSP, is the ruling BJP’s overwhelming focus on the Dalit vote bank. While BSP leader wasn’t proactive enough to up the ante on many of Dalit issues, the saffron party, with PM Narendra Modi leading from the forefront is trying its best to woo the SC vote bank.
A number of symbolic gestures by Modi, invoking of Bhim Rao Ambedkar in his public speeches, naming government schemes – even mobile apps after Ambedkar, and the inauguration of a number of Dalit leaders’ statues, is something which must be haunting Mayawati all the time. Modi and Shah’s latest move – fielding Ram Nath Kovind as presidential candidate- was a masterstroke in the same row. Mayawati was left with no option but to announce her support and express happiness that a Dalit will be elected as the de jure head of India. The Modi-Shah strategy left Mayawati with no option but to return to full-time, combative politics, and the best stage to announce the same was, perhaps Rajya Sabha, where the BSP leader got an opportunity to make a loud announcement for her resignation, Live on most television channels.
Though it’s clear that full-time political activism is the only way left for Mayawati, her road to resurrecting the lost ground is indeed very difficult. The good, and at the same time, bad news for the party is that its Dalit vote bank is intact despite the dismal show of numbers in the elections. Even in the recent Assembly Polls, Maya garnered 21 per cent Dalit votes, in 2014 Lok Sabha she won 22 percent. The number showed that Maya’s vote bank is intact, but at the same time gave a look into what’s wrong. The prime issue for Mayawati is the loss of Muslim, OBC and a section of upper castes grouping which supported her in 2007 – a somewhat similar situation faced by RJD and JDU in 2015 Assembly elections. While Lalu and Nitish were quick to do away with differences, BSP and SP are yet to initiate talks. Still, even after coming together, Lalu and Nitish had resorted to a heavy ground work and extensive campaigning in Bihar to regain their lost ground. Mayawati, a shrewd politician has been quick to realise that a Rajya Sabha seat may serve very little purpose, and made it’s perfect use in announcing her re-arrival in politics.