BSP Facing Existential Crisis


By Sushil Kutty

Bahujan Samaj Party is like the sinking ship in countless high seas stories. Should anybody be bothered? BSP Supremo ‘Behan’ Mayawati gives the impression she doesn’t see the BSP floundering. If Bahujan Samaj Party MPs are leaving the BSP, that is because they might not get BSP tickets this time. That they don’t see a role for themselves in the BSP is another matter. But time is running out and the 2024 general elections are getting closer than what can be made of the cloudy image in the rearview mirror.

For how long can the MPs afford to remain tied to Behan Mayawati’s apron strings? If anybody’s to blame for their “exodus” from the BSP, it is Behan Mayawati. The reason why they stuck with the BSP was also ‘Behan Mayawati’. Meaning, Behan Mayawati ran a tight BSP ship and it’s only in recent times that the ship started going adrift.

Otherwise, the 10 BSP Members of Parliament had been steadfast around ‘Behan Mayawati’ and had seen Mayawati’s fortress-like mansion in Lucknow come up from dust. Therefore, watching loyal BSP politicians ditching the mother-ship is depressing and people are questioning why MPs are leaving. The latest is Ambedkar Nagar MP Ritesh Pandey who joined the BJP. The Bharatiya Janata Party has grub in the galley for all hungry party-jumpers, whether from this or that political party; politicians such as RiteshPandey, who had just a month and a half ago told media he wouldn’t leave the BSP come what may.

It is the “current trend”, says a newspaper report – “jumping ship to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Mayawati-led BSP happens to be the latest to hemorrhage legislators for the BJP. Of course, “ahead of the general elections” is one of the “whys” BSP politicians are stripping blue to don saffron. Another “why?” is Behan Mayawati’s strict “no-no” to joining the opposition’s INDIA bloc, which she thinks is suspect.

Behan Mayawati considers above the riffraff – she cannot be touched. Add to that, the BSP Supremo shutting herself away from public gaze and glare for a long time and incommunicado is what incommunicado makes. Behan Mayawari’s absentee landlord act was too much to ignore for all those in the business of analyzing politics and politicians.

For months, Behan Mayawati locked herself up in some deep dungeon in her 9 Mall Avenue fortress in Lucknow even as her absence told of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s non-existence in the public imagination. The sad thing is people have stopped talking of Behan Mayawati’s collection of handbags and the silent blue BSP elephants in Lucknow had no idea who to turn to at a time of existential crisis.

Behan Mayawati’s “prolonged political inactiveness” was killing the Bahujan Samaj Party softly. Maybe that’s why the delay in BSP Members of Parliament jumping ship even as the BJP demoralized the opposition parties, targeted them with central investigating agencies, and poached MPs and MLAs from their ranks with impunity. Those from the BSP are only now falling to the BJP.

In his resignation letter to Behan Mayawati, Pandey writes of neglect and failure to “establish dialogue with the leadership” despite multiple entreaties to meet Behan Mayawati herself. Apparently, it is a similar grouse which has been dogging all BSP legislators. Mayawati is imperious and impervious and ‘unapproachable’ fits her inaccessible politician image like she’s somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

The long-drawn plight of some of the Bahujan Samaj Party MPs is only now coming to light. Pandey wasn’t alone in his diatribe. One other MP was said to be in talks with Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, who had himself switched to the BJP-led NDA and the RLD now has a seat-sharing deal with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Another name is that of Member of Parliament Sangeeta Azad. She may also join the BJP and she had reportedly met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister during the recently-concluded Budget Session of Parliament. Also, the Samajwadi Party has named the BSP’s Ghazipur MP Afzal Ansari as the Samajwadi Party’s 2024 LS Polls Ghazipur candidate.

Then, there’s Danish Ali, the BSP’s suspended Amroha MP. That he is switching to the Congress has long been within earshot. His line that “the opposition needs to unite” doesn’t fit Behan Mayawati’s viewpoint and Danish Ali will go Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ way is more or less confirmed. Also, the BSP MP from Jaunpur, Shyam Singh Yadav, is looking for a Samajwadi Party sanctuary.

The question is, “What happens to the BSP with all these desertions?” In the 2019 general elections, the BSP had won 10 out of the 80 Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha seats. Then, it was in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. This time, the BJP says it will win all 80 seats. On February 25, Behan Mayawati dismissed the talk of “MPs’ exodus” as of no consequence, stating that even otherwise they stood no chance for repeat BSP tickets.

“They didn’t work for their constituencies,” she said in her usual manner. Mayawati’s nephew and heir-apparent Akash Anand will likely play a very significant role in BSP ticket distribution this time and Behan Mayawati doesn’t believe that the Bahujan Samaj Party has been weakened by the “exodus” or that MPs leaving the BSP is a sign of weakness in the Bahujan Samaj Party. (IPA