Maya Faces Grim Reality as Cadres Rush to BJP
Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has been steadily losing its workers to the BJP in the run-up to the recent Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh
The Bahujan Samaj Party has not just failed to win even a single seat in the Lok Sabha elections but also steadily lost its cadres to the triumphant Bharatiya Janata Party in the run-up to the recent polls. According to the BJP Yuva Morcha office, the party’s youth wing has registered 3,310 members in Uttar Pradesh alone over the past three months that were earlier registered as BSP cadres in the state.
That’s more than half the 5,900 youths registered in the state by the BJP’s youth wing, according to which the other members came from the Congress, Samajwadi Party and other political parties. BSP members from Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Bijnore led the migration to the BJP in their party.
Senior BSP activists say the migration started a year ago. Social scientist Badri Narayan, who is project director of Dalit Resource Centre, says the BJP’s target has been mainly the warrior community of Pasis. “The RSS put in extra efforts to appeal to the Pasi youths. They distributed pamphlets referring to the ancestors of the community as the ‘rakshaks (protectors) of the Hindu religion’. These tactics have lured the warrior class in western UP to the BJP,” said Narayan, adding that most of the migrating cadres belong to the Pasi, Kori, Dhobi and Valmiki castes that have issues with only Jatavs getting benefits under BSP chief Mayawati’s rule in the past.
Uday Tarak Raj, a BSP member since 2006 from Sisaulia, who is with the BJP now, said that in western UP alone, over 1,000 Pasi youths shifted to the BJP in March. “We see it as a war for izzat (honour) now,” he said, adding, “The BSP mandates a strict sense of discipline among its cadres and in the last few years, the rules have only become stricter. You cannot even use abusive language. The BSP worker, unlike a BJP worker, who is a fighter, is like a mouse who enters from a hole and leaves without being noticed.” The biggest problem, former BSP members say, was Mayawati's lack of response to the Muzaffarnagar riots. “She did a rally to protest against riots but didn’t utter a word against violence. Also, the campaign coordinators in western UP were Muslims, which angered her cadres among the Hindu Scheduled Castes,” Tarak Raj said. Senior cadres believe the growing disillusionment also resulted from the lack of enthusiasm in the party’s campaign, mainly because very few camps were held for the cadres. “In 2009, there were meetings between party coordinators and cadres to assess the mood at the ground level and initiate corrective measures. There was a clear mandate in the party to make Mayawati the PM, with at least three cadre camps in each assembly area and at least 3,000 party workers gathering at one meeting,” said Dahiya, ruing that this time the party chose to focus on the rest of India and started its campaign late in the state. Just 400 camps were held this time, half the last time’s number, he lamented. However, Badri Narayan said that the shifting of its workers would not affect BSP since its cadres include thousands of workers, with at least 50 in each village. “BSP cadres are mainly part-time that came in large numbers during elections. So a few hundreds shifting now won’t be an issue for the party,” he said. Sanjay Baudh, secretary of Dr Ambedkar Students Front, agreed with Narayan and claimed the 3,000-5,000 cadres that left the party were not cadres but part of voter base that shifted sensing an opportunity to make more money.
Analysts claim shifting of workers won’t affect BSP since its cadres include thousands of workers, with at least 50 in each village