By shifting the entire blame on Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati has refused to accept any accountability for the failures of her own party.
The lust for power may have cost Akhilesh Yadav heavily, almost sending him into a crisis of existence. The alliance between foes-turned-friends Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party was projected as a game-changer; one that would bring the winning chariot of the Bharatiya Janata Party to a grinding halt. Mayawati had even thrown her hat in the ring for the coveted prime minister’s post and had found support from Akhilesh, who, in turn, had hoped to get the former’s support for the top job in Uttar Pradesh in 2022.
Of course, it wasn’t meant to be and Akhilesh emerged as the biggest loser in the game. The SP was restricted to five seats — the same number it won in 2014 — and defeats in traditional family strongholds of Kannauj, Badaun and Ferozabad added insult to injury. Mayawati’s BSP, on the other hand, emerged victorious on 10 seats, up from zilch in the last general elections. While Mayawati gained, Akhilesh has been left to deal with a possibly aggravated family feud and a question mark on his leadership abilities.
Mayawati covering up for her own failures?
Despite being the sole benefactor in the Mahagathbandhan of the SP, BSP and Ajit Singh’s RLD, the BSP chief has also been unsparing towards Akhilesh in her assessment of the poll debacle as she parted ways with the SP barely six months after joining hands. While she refrained from attacking the SP national president personally — Assembly elections are still far off and she may need to reunite with the SP to take on BJP — she had some very harsh words for his leadership abilities and his performance in terms of preventing a split in the Yadav votes. But is Mayawati being fair in her castigation of the SP president? Or is it just a clever ploy to hide her own failures? A look at the numbers reveals that the latter may bear more truth than one would have thought.
Political analysts are clear in their assessment that Mayawati would not have managed to secure the numbers that she did without the support of SP. Her allegation that the Yadav votes did not transfer to the BSP is also incorrect as is visible in the India Today Axis My India post-poll survey. As per the survey, 72% of Yadavs, a traditional vote bank of the SP, voted in favour of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance. Jatavs, a community that Mayawati herself belongs to, also voted on similar lines – 74% voted for the alliance. So far so good. However, the equation changes dramatically when one looks at the manner in which non-Jatav SC voted. As per the survey, 60% from this group voted for the BJP while only 30% voted for the Gathbandhan. Yadavs, Jatavs and Muslims constitute around 40% of the total voters and have been traditional voters of the SP or the BSP. The BJP based its entire strategy on the remaining 60% of the voters with a specific focus on non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav SCs and benefitted.
A Steady Decline
While these figures may not reveal the actual picture, Mayawati and the BSP have been on a downward spiral ever since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The party was at its peak in 2007 when it not only managed to form a government on its own, winning 206 of the 403 Assembly seats but also sweeping a massive 30.43% in vote share. However, started going south soon after. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the BSP’s tally stood at 20 of 80 parliamentary seats and a vote share of 27.42%. In the 2012 Assembly elections, the BSP’s tally went down to 80 from 206 and its vote share dipped to 25.91%.
However, it was the 2014 Lok Sabha election that made the biggest dent in the BSP. Swept aside in the Modi wave, the BSP failed to open its account and its vote share reduced further to 19.77%. The 2017 Assembly elections left her party with just 19 seats and a vote share of 22.23%. While the vote share went up, offering hope to the SP and BSP to defeat the BJP, this election proved it wrong as the BSP could garner just 10 seats with a vote share of 19.26%.
Who hurt Whom?
While BJP president Amit Shah aced the caste arithmetic, Mayawati and Akhilesh, perhaps busy drawing castles in the air, could not sense the groundswell in favour of the BJP. Overconfident of their arithmetic, both failed to read the tea leaves and paid the price for it. Mayawati’s famed social engineering failed, and the alliance with BSP cost SP dearly. Besides the loss of face, the SP may have permanently damaged the power of the Muslim-Yadav combine that Mulayam Singh Yadav had cultivated as the party’s core strength with years of hard work and toil.
Shifting the entire blame on Akhilesh is Mayawati’s ploy purely to save face. Her own actions within the party speak otherwise. She has fired several office-bearers and coordinators in many states but has refused to take the blame for the party’s dwindling track record. The shifting of the blame by Mayawati comes across as a desperate bid to shrug all accountability and her blatant refusal to accept that the ground has shifted from under her feet.