Mayawati seeks to make the most of Samajwadi’s decline

    By Mohit Dubey, IANS,

    Lucknow : With the ruling Samajwadi Party facing the heat in Uttar Pradesh, BSP supremo Mayawati is focussing all her energy to win the most number of Lok Sabha seats from the sprawling state of nearly 200 million people.

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    Her confidants say the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister is busy in Delhi fine-tuning the Bahujan Samaj Party’s election strategy for the 2014 general elections.

    Mayawati is, however, yet to launch her campaign — in contrast to the Samajwadi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress whose leaders have begun addressing large gatherings across the country.

    In Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has held rallies in Jhansi and Kanpur and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has spoken at Aligarh, Rampur, Hamirpur and Salempur.

    Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has kick-started the party’s campaign from Azamgarh, which has a large concentration of Muslims.

    “Mayawati knows that by concentrating her energies on Uttar Pradesh, her home state, she can emerge stronger and powerful,” a senior BSP leader told IANS.

    With this in mind, Mayawati is holding daily meetings with party leaders, Lok Sabha candidates and coordinators of her party.

    The aim is to regain ground lost to arch rival Samajwadi Party in 2012, when the latter took power in India’s most populous state, which sends a record 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

    Old timers in the party say that Mayawati continues to keep away from modern political tools, including social networking sites, as well as high blitz campaigns.

    She remains wedded to traditional campaign methods.

    “She believes in keeping her ears to the ground and taking direct feedback from BSP workers. The connect has been re-established after the disaster of 2012 when a handful of bureaucrats had completely cut her off from her cadres,” says a long-term loyalist.

    Mayawati has already distributed party ticket to all the candidates and is now keenly watching the other parties.

    According to a state BSP leader, although Mayawati did tour the western Uttar Pradesh areas of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Meerut after the communal riots in September, her network in the region was alive and kicking.

    Mayawati hails from the region.

    “Behenji is in touch with people and a lot of Muslim leaders have told her how safe they were during her 2007-12 regime,” said one of her close associates. The riots left dozens dead and thousands homeless.

    This source suggested that Mayawati was making discreet efforts to drum up the support of Muslims – a key constituency she lost to bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2012.

    In her characteristic style, Mayawati had stated soon after her defeat in the 2012 assembly elections that the people of Uttar Pradesh would soon repent their decision to bring the Samajwadi Party to power.

    The Dalit leader has asked party coordinators – key constituents in the party’s hierarchy — to fan out across the state with data and statistics about “Samajwadi Party misrule”.

    Mayawati’s Lok Sabha poll agenda is expected to centre around the rising disenchantment vis-a-vis the Akhilesh Yadav government.

    Mayawati, her aides say, is confident that the Congress, which surprisingly put up a commendable show in 2009, was on the wane in Uttar Pradesh.

    Her decision not to attack the Congress also stems from the fact that she might face the public ire for supporting the Congress-led UPA-II through its five year tenure.

    (Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])