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BSP, SP begin race for number 2 position in UP; Mayawati eyes minority votes

In the Lok Sabha elections, the BSP won 10 seats, up from the zero in 2014, but the SP just managed to maintain its tally of five seats.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 24, 2019, 09.38 PM IST
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BSP sources also said Mayawati has given top priority to a good show in the upcoming Assembly byelections.
With former chief minister Mayawati’s decision to go it alone in all future electoral battles, it's now the start of a race between the BSP and SP for the “number 2” position in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

The BSP supremo's announcement came on Twitter on Monday, a day after she held a meeting with workers to review the party's performance in the recent Lok Sabha polls. "In the interest of the party and the movement, the party will contest all small and big elections on its own strength," she tweeted.

In the Lok Sabha elections, the BSP won 10 seats, up from the zero in 2014, but the SP just managed to maintain its tally of five seats.

The BSP, to begin with, apparently wants to emerge the principal challenger to the ruling BJP in the byelections to be held soon for 12 assembly seats in the state. These bypolls have been necessitated following the election of 11 MLAs to the Lok Sabha, and the disqualification of one MLA from Hamirpur.

For that the BSP has plans to woo voters from the Muslim community, who constitute one of the main support bases for the Samajwadi Party in UP. In her speech at the party’s national convention on Sunday, she tried to send out the message that the BSP is a better political platform for minority voters.

A source in the BSP pointed out that Mayawati’s decision to select Danish Ali as leader of her party in the Lok Sabha was a step in this direction. "It clearly indicated she is desperate to eat into SP’s minority support base. Danish would be in a position to place BSP’s views on different issues in the Lok Sabha as the leader of his party,” the source said.

BSP sources also said Mayawati has given top priority to a good show in the upcoming Assembly byelections. “Her only agenda now is to perform well in the coming byelections. If her party puts up a good show, it would be easy for her to send out a positive message to minority voters in UP. So, much is at stake for the BSP in these byelections, another source told ET.

Party sources also said Mayawati has already started selecting her party’s candidates. The 11 assembly seats which have been declared vacant now include Iglas (Hathras), Lucknow Cantt, Rampur, Balha, Gangoh, Jaidpur, Tundla and Govind Nagar (Kanpur). Out of these 11, nine seats were won by the BJP in the 2017 Assembly polls.

In response to her tweet that it was the SP's "attitude" that made her call off the alliance, the party's national general secretary Ramashankar Vidyarthi was quoted by PTI as saying that Mayawati was upset because of the Dalit support to his party and its leader Akhilesh Yadav. "She is weakening the fight for social justice," he said, adding that Dalit society is getting connected with the SP and Akhilesh Yadav in a big way.

Clearly, the race to cut into each other's support base has already begun.

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