RAJASTHAN: The BSP’s presence in the electoral contest could spoil the Congress prospects in many seats in Rajasthan, particularly in the eastern belt where Scheduled Castes, BSP’s core vote base, have a significant presence. Political experts say candidature of the BSP in Dausa, Bharatpur, Alwar and Karauli-Dholpur will lead to a division of votes of Congress’s traditional votebank.
Of the four seats in the region, three are reserved — Dausa (ST), Karauli-Dholpur and Bharatpur (both SC) . The only unreserved seat is the communally senstive Alwar where the BSP has fielded Imran Khan. Muslims, a traditional vote bank of the Congress in the state, are in sizeable numbers in Alwar.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth says, “Even if the BSP gets a single vote in these areas, it will be from Congress’s vote share. Rajasthan is the only state in north India where SCs are considered closer to the Congress in comparision to the BJP. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot also enjoys huge popularity among SCs.”
The Dalits are upset with the BJP government over the alleged diluteion of the SC/ST Act. In Alwar, one Dalit was allegedly killed by police during a protest over the issue. Experts say another factor that makes BSP’s presence felt in eastern Rajasthan is proximity of these areas with Uttar Pradesh which is the base of Mayawati. Sunil Mathur, a political expert based in Rajathan says, “The BSP fielding candidates in Rajasthan is mere tokenism, except in the eastern belt. It has been campaigning dedicatedly in the region and its efforts reflected in the Assembly polls. Its vote share in the region increased and also translated into seats.”
Of the six seats BSP won in the 2018 Assembly polls, five were from this region. It won two seats each from Bharatpur and Alwar districts, and one each from Karauli and Jhunjhunu. The only places in Rajasthan where Mayawati has been campaigning are in the eastern region.
In Bharatpur and Dholpur, Jatavs, the core vote bank of Mayawati, are a sizeable community. Both Bareth and Mathur say that because of polarisation by the BJP in Rajasthan, Muslims will largely stick with the Congress but Dalit votes may get split between the BSP and the Congress. Roughly, there are 4.13 lakh, 3.8 lakh and 3.27 lakh Dalits in Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur and Alwar constituencies, respectively.