Ex-CM Mayawati Banking On Brahmins, New Branding To Be Counted In UP

Mayawati thinks the Brahmins are now angry with the BJP as the community did not receive due respect and protection since 2017 and is now open to supporting the BSP.

Desperate to stay relevant in Uttar Pradesh politics, former chief minister Mayawati and Bahujan Samaj Party president is trying hard to project a new image ahead of the assembly elections next year.

Mayawati’s desperation stems from the fact that the BSP’s traditional 23 percent Dalit support base has shrunk over the past years with only the Jatavs backing her.

Worse, the party’s tally dropped from 206/403 assembly seats in 2007 to just 19 by 2017. Since then, 11 party lawmakers have been either suspended or expelled for alleged anti-party activities.

Further, senior Brahmin leader and former MP Brajesh Pathak moved to the BJP before the 2017 assembly polls and is a cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath government.

The new image projection tries to highlight that the BSP does not pander to caste and religious sentiments and aims to pursue only development-oriented politics.

Among her several assurances, the promise not to build new parks and memorials in the name of party icons, if voted to power, has been widely appreciated.

Though Mayawati’s past four tenures as chief minister were known for better law and order situation, vanity projects like parks and memorials in the name of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar and her mentor and BSP founder late Kanshi Ram, drew criticism even from her new-found supporters who were sympathetic to her political struggles.

A memorial in Noida, close to the Delhi border, and big projects in state capital Lucknow, were meant to showcase the rise of both the party and its supremo Mayawati in UP’s caste-ridden politics.

One such park in Lucknow even had a statue of Mayawati, alongside Dr Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, following which the leader was ridiculed by her detractors and political rivals.


Statues of BR Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and Mayawati at Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida. (Credit: IANS)


The memorials cost the public exchequer dear and came amidst charges that the chief minister had amassed huge personal wealth, prompting Mayawati’s adversaries to coin the term “Daulat ki beti” to describe her.

This was a counter to her own projection as a “Dalit ki beti”, a woman who belonged to the lower rungs of society but reached the highest echelons of power after fighting tough political and caste battles.

Such sympathies for Mayawati and an aversion to the Samajwadi Party’s rule, when gang lords and muscle men had a field day, bore fruit in 2007 when the BSP chief made a calibrated attempt to forge an alliance of Dalits and Brahmins.

The experiment was successful and catapulted Mayawati to the top post but later the Brahmins moved away from the BSP as they became disillusioned with the leader and her policies.

The post 2012 phase saw Mayawati’s political graph go down with a corresponding rise in the electoral fortunes of the BJP, which won a brute majority in 2017.

Interestingly, while the former chief minister is highlighting the virtues of an inclusive society, she is also making efforts to woo the influential Brahmins, who constitute 12 percent of the state’s total electorate, to win the race, again.

Target 2022

In Mayawati’s own words, if the party is voted to power, all her might will be focused on turning around the fortunes of UP and making the state a model of development in the country.

This is a clever attempt to connect with the aspirational voters, who want the politicians to talk more about basic issues like health, education and jobs in the backdrop of a tanked economy and the pandemic, which exposed the healthcare system.

The BSP chief is also reminding the voters that her government during 2007-12 removed a freeze on general category jobs and doubled the price of cane over five years.

She has alleged that while the Samajwadi Party government from 2012-2017 increased the cane prices marginally only once, the BJP regime since 2017 hasn’t addressed the issue at all.

As she takes on the BJP, Mayawati is projecting herself as catering to all sections of society, she has blamed the SP of playing casteist politics and the BJP as being pro-capitalist.

Slamming the BJP over the farmers agitation going on for a year, she has said the three controversial farm laws will not be implemented in UP.

Presenting a contrast, she is also hard selling the BSP as a party which does what it says.

But most of her poll strategy has rolled out with just six months left for the polls and may not be enough to take on the rivals.


BSP chief Mayawati on the occasion of party founder Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary, at the party office in Lucknow, on 15 March 2021. (Credit: ANI)


Plan B

Mayawati never forgets to thank her traditional Dalits supporters for standing by her through thick and thin but has also redoubled her efforts to woo the Brahmins in the hope that the 2007 formula may bail her out again.

The gamble taken by the former chief minister is proof of the desperation that has set in the BSP system. Mayawati believes that the Brahmins were not treated well during the Samajwadi Party rule from 2012-2017 and voted in large numbers for the BJP as they fell for the saffron party’s propaganda.

Mayawati thinks the Brahmins are now angry with the BJP as the community did not receive due respect and protection since 2017 and is now open to supporting the BSP.

While her confidante and party’s Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Mishra, who headed the 2007 Brahmin outreach and is again at it, Mayawati has also roped in his wife Kalpana Mishra to connect with women in the community.


BSP National General Secretary and RS MP Satish Chandra Mishra addressing a meeting for Brahmin voters.


The BSP believes that the BJP has been rattled by its Brahmin outreach programme and is following suit.

While wooing the Brahmins, the BSP is also dabbling in a bit of soft-Hindutva to counter the BJP. The party’s Brahmin outreach began from Ayodhya where SC Mishra promised to put the ongoing construction of Lord Ram temple on a fast track.

Besides the Brahmins, the BSP chief has directed party functionaries to rope in the upper caste Thakurs or Rajputs and the Muslims through similar drives. She has blamed both the SP and the Congress for ignoring the Muslims.

Talking about the religious heads and preachers of other faiths and sects, the BSP chief said she has done enough to pay regards to them in the past but was open to doing more, if needed.

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