LUCKNOW: During a month-long electioneering in UP amid roadshows and pompuous campaigns, BSP chief Mayawati remained conspicuous as she ended her campaign on Saturday--much ahead of the others.
Marked with simplicity, her campaign style focused on making a wider appeal to her constituency and letting her dedicated cadre work on the grass-roots without making any sound bytes. The BSP held two huge rallies a day on an average during the last one month of the campaign.
However, the BSP chief, in an unprecedented way, seemed forthcoming and media friendly this election. She had also organised a few one-way press conferences to read out her retorts to her political adversaries during the poll period.
In order to save the losing ground after her party’s rout in saffron surge of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BSP supremo had initiated her silent preparation for battle of UP two years ago. She had zeroed in on her candidates then and deputed them in their respective constituencies with the ‘mantra’ to strike a direct connect with their voters at ground level while she thoroughly worked out the Muslim-Dalit formula around social and demographic equations for her party. Subsequently, Mayawati fielded Muslim candidates on 99 seats and Dalits on 87.
Mayawati’s poll mechanics have always been based on her social engineering. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, she might have failed to win a seat but managed to win 20 per cent vote share which the political pundits cannot ignore.
This time around, Mayawati tweaked her strategy a bit, maintaining an anti-BJP tone in her campaign in a bid to target the SP minority vote bank to make her Muslim-Dalit formula work in favour of BSP. She positioned herself diagonally opposite to the BJP, firing her barbs at the PM Narendra Modi mainly over demonetisation, projecting herself as their ‘messiah’ instead of the SP which was clearly embroiled in the family feud.
Meanwhile, the BSP chief faced a series of rebellions when some prominent leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya and Brijesh Pathak and half a dozen MLAs quit the party. However, she overcame it quickly and did not allow her preparations to be hit. Her trusted lieutenants like and SC Mishra and Naseemuddin Siddiqui held ‘bhai chara meetings’ to ensure that their leader’s poll dynamics worked this time again. She also opened her doors to turncoats while others were trying to wriggle out of their feuds and had no hesitation in inducting mafia don-turned-MLA Mukhtar Ansari, to strengthen her position in eastern UP. In a centralised party like the BSP, there was little scope for rebels to upset her applecart.
During her month-long campaign, she kept her political discourse focused mainly on PM Modi over demonetisation and CM Akhilesh Yadav--calling him babua and targeting him for ‘poor law and order situation’.
Having learnt her lessons during her last stint as CM, Mayawati assured the voters in all her rallies that she will not construct statues, memorials and museums in the State. Going with a manifesto, the Dalit leader doled out some pragmatic sops--waiving farmers’ loan, promise of posting working women in the home district of their spouse, posting cops in the home range--to the electorate during her campaign trail.