Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Thursday, 30 August, posted on platform X (Formerly known as Twitter) that, "NDA and INDIA alliances comprise mostly of parties that are anti-poor, casteist, communal and pro-rich," adding that there is "no question" of an alliance with them for the elections.
Recently, she had said that her party has decided to contest next year's Lok Sabha elections on its own in Uttar Pradesh as her past experiences have shown that not much is gained from entering into an alliance.
"We will fight the elections alone. We will contest the election on our own in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and in Haryana," she had said earlier. She added that in Punjab and Haryana, she would be willing to fight the elections with regional parties, "provided that they have no deal or alliance with other alliances."
The BSP is in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab. It had briefly forged an alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party in 2019, but the alliance broke up before the Assembly elections.
'Will Fight Like We Did in 2007': Mayawati
The BSP chief also appealed the media not to spread "fake news" with regards to the party's decisions.
In a subsequent statement, Mayawati wrote, "BSP, just like in 2007, will single-handedly contest the upcoming Lok Sabha and four state assembly general elections by uniting crores of people from marginalised sections on the basis of mutual brotherhood rather than the 'jugaad' (improvisation) of the opponents. Media should not spread misconceptions again."
This comes days after she had made scathing remarks against the Opposition parties, claiming that her party "does not get transferred votes."
"The BSP had to bear more loss than gain by getting into alliances in UP as its votes clearly got transferred to the alliance partner but the other parties do not have the right intention or the capability to transfer their votes to our candidate," said a statement quoted her as saying.
She further noted, "As for the Congress and BJP alliance governments have shown that their ideologies, intentions and politics are against the interests of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and other marginalized groups."
Some days ago, BSP leaders and office bearers were also called to their party office for a meeting.
'BSP Should Try to Shed B-Team Tag'
Political analysts and data of previous performance in general elections suggest that contesting alone may not be a wise decision for the party.
Political strategist and commentator, Amitabh Tiwari told The Quint, "Somehow, BSP has been branded as the B-team of BJP. So, this has rather seeded into the minds of the anti-BJP voters. SP, Congress have succeeded a great deal in doing that. Some of her actions have also led to this."
Tiwari further noted that the decline the BSP had in 2022, 70% of that benefited the Samajwadi Party and 30% has gone to the BJP. Votes that were transferred were mostly minorities plus a bit of non-Jatavs, lower OBCs and other oppressed groups.
"If she wants to save her 10 seats then she should fight with SP, especially, because around 80% minority votes might go to SP this time. In a way, it will also shed 'saathgaath' with BJP tag," Tiwari remarked.
BSP's Report Card
Fifteen years ago, the party formed a majority government with 206 MLAs in the state, winning a vote share of 30.4%. It managed a vote share of just 12.7% in the 2022 Assembly elections, winning just one seat.
In the 2019 general elections, the combined vote share of SP and BSP was 37%, with SP getting 17.96% of the votes and BSP-19.26%.
SP won five seats in the state and BSP won ten.
The BSP first made its entry into the UP assembly in the 1989 assembly elections. Its strength increased in every assembly election since 1989 until 2007 except in the 1991 elections.
However, now with UP increasingly transforming into a bi-polar political battleground between the BJP and the SP, the ground looks a bit shaky for BSP. This may further intensify if 'INDIA' coalition constituents SP, Congress and RLD form a pre-poll alliance.
"Logically, if she wants to revive the party then she has to get rid of the 'B-team' tag. Today, in politics there will only be 2 votes, one to BJP and one, anti-BJP. Or you ally with BJP. But BJP doesn't need you. It's anyway getting 60-65% even when you're in opposition, BJP needs you to split the votes."Amitabh Tiwari, political strategist
'Vote Transfer Helped Her Last Time'
In her statement, Mayawati had also remarked, "The BSP had to endure more losses than gains through alliances in UP, as our votes unmistakably shifted to the alliance partner, but the other parties lack the sincere intent or capacity to transfer their votes to our candidate."
It must be remembered that the BSP won 10 Lok Sabha seats out of 80 in 2019, when it contested in alliance with the SP and the RLD but it won just one Assembly seat out of 403 contesting alone in 2022.
SP supporters, in fact, argue that it was the BSP which didn't transfer its votes. They cite the fact that the BSP won twice as many seats as the SP.
'BSP Still Committed to BR Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram's Ideas'
BSP's Sudhindra Bhadoria says that Mayawati's announcement is in line with the party's ideology.
"Whether it was in the past or now, BSP is committed to the ideas of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram. The vision carried out by them has reflected in the party's decades of political work, following of women, Dalits, among others," Bhadoria told The Quint.
He outlined that the most important aspects to the party are its ideology and the Constitution.
Even though at the moment, we may be equidistant from both the NDA and INDIA, we would like a secular, democratic framework of this country and it all depends on negotiations and what the party chief decides.BSP's Sudhindra Bhadhoria
Tiwari, however, says that it may not be in the BSP's best interests if they go it alone in the elections.
He argues that if the BSP wants the votes that go to the Opposition, then they must form an alliance with them.
"People in UP, Bihar say 'vote cutwa.' then you'll be that," he adds.
Moreover, he stated that there is an unspoken 'age-limit' to regional parties. While many regional parties which contested between 1950-77, no longer exist, the longevity usually is around 35-40 years. "
"Very few regional parties still remain because they've constantly re-invented themselves. Regional parties also split or go extinct and new ones blossom," said Tiwari. Now, Mayawati also faces some competition from Chandrashekhar Azad of Bhim Army among the youth.
"Among non-Jatav Dalits, BJP is now the most popular party and SP being the number 2, BSP number 3. She has around 60% Jatav voters. The question is — Will Jatav voters choose her, SP or BJP?" noted Tiwari.
Presenting itself as a viable national alternative amid the increasing 'NDA vs INDIA' bipolarity, will be the main challenge for the BSP.