Sink or swim

Wary and cornered by a steadily dwindling base of support, BSP leader Mayawati has resorted to aggressive and unorthodox reorganisations for her party

Threatened by the rise of Chandra Shekhar Ravan of Bheem Sena and sharp erosion in her support base, Bahujan Samaj Party national president and former Chief Minister Mayawati has played an aggressive Brahmin card by appointing young Riteish Pande as leader of BSP in Lok Sabha. This is the fourth reshuffle in the party leaders from top to state-level since Lok Sabha polls.

Earlier it was felt that Mayawati was playing Dalit-Muslim card which can be inferred as the reason behind why she appointed Danish Ali as party leader in Lok Sabha. Mayawati has lately been unnerved by the manner in which Chandra Shekhar Ravan of Bheem Sena has emerged as a potential Dalit leader with a mass following. Ravan demonstrated his strength recently through massive demonstration at Jana Masjid against Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

A visibly frustrated Mayawati has resorted to charging Ravan of being a BJP stooge and objected pushing people from Uttar Pradesh to dharna in Delhi. Mayawati has lately been worried about the sharp erosion of her support base and instances of senior leaders leaving the party one after another.

More so, unlike Mayawati who is known for not having many direct meetings, Chandra Shekhar Ravan, on the contrary, is always available to leaders and workers. BSP got a major jolt to its system when all the prominent MLAs of the party left Mayawati and joined Congress party in Rajasthan. In other states too, BSP has been facing an ever-increasing exodus of party workers and leaders. It is out of this state of abject desperation that Mayawati is now busy with experimentation in the organisation of her party.

Earlier, Mayawati made her first attempt at reorganisation by bringing in her brother, Anand Kumar and making him vice-president of the party. But, this did not last very long when his name was linked to certain controversies. She was forced to drop him and instead brought his son Akash into the fold, who has subsequently been given an important position within the party.

In yet another instance, some time ago, she gave due importance to party coordinators but when this system failed to deliver adequately in the elections, she immediately about-faced and brought about the zonal system.

Quite unlike her mentor Kansiram, who was available to his party leaders and workers, Mayawati has made herself relatively inaccessible to her party leaders and workers. She routinely meets very few leaders and there has been a total disconnect between her and the general public. Mayawati, for her part, has opposed CAA and NRC inside and outside Parliament but she has, as yet, refrained from organising or participating in any open protests or opposition meetings.

Mayawati is considerably worried that the BJP, Samajwadi Party and Congress have succeeded in eating away and stealing her non-jatav support base. That is why she has at times looked outsider her traditional circle towards Muslims and now Brahmins in order to retain an important and relevant position in state politics.

Mayawati believes that the powerful Brahmin community is upset with the BJP over the manner in which UP CM Yogi Adiyanath is playing the aggressive Thakur card and has been giving them important positions in his administration. This agitation and disappointment, she hopes, will finally clinch her a stable base of influence and support, even if it contradicts much of what her politics have stood for.

Views expressed are strictly personal

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