Thorn In Phoolpur Battle


Mayawati being joint opposition candidate may not be enough as consolidation of Dalit-Yadav-Muslim won’t be enough to trump Kurmi-Forward-Other Than Yadav combo of BJP

By Asit Manohar

Amid rumours of Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati contesting from the Phoolpur seat as joint opposition candidate if the prestigious Lok Sabha seat is vacated by Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and former BJP state president Keshav Prasad Mourya, political observers have already started to predict the Lok Sabha by-poll a repeat of Allahabad Lok Sabha by-poll contested and won by former Prime Minister VP Singh. This prediction got further boost when BJP did not altered its plans and Keshav Prasad Mourya went on to file his nomination for the constituent assembly of the state — means the ball is now into the Mayawati’s court, whether she want to apply herself to direct elections and showcase her cadre that she still has mojo left among her voters by winning the Phoolpur Lok Sabha by-elections.

Poll observers are of the opinion that if Mayawati decides to contest the Phoolpur by-poll, BJP may have to find it difficult to win this seat again as its sitting MP Keshav Prasad Mourya has done very little for the people who voted a BJP candidate for first time from this seat, once represented by first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Since, the seat has good number of Dalit, Yadav and Muslim voters, if SP and Congress decides to support Mayawati, the by-poll would definitely become interesting if not difficult for the BJP, especially when we come to know that Mayawati’s social engineering of Dalit-Brahmin combination worked well in fabour of BSP in 2009 when its Brahmin candidate Kapil Muni Karwariya defeated SP’s candidate from the trader community Shyama Charan Gupta. But, it would be interesting to know whether this Dalit-Brahmin card still works for the party because in 2014 BJP’s OBC face Keshav Prasad Mourya won the seat from BSP’s sitting lawmaker Kapil Muni Karwariya.

BJP’s alliance with Apna Dal, which has huge following in the Kurmi community, too worked in favour of Mourya as the Lok Sabha constituency is dominated by the Kurmi voters. This alliance worked in favour of BJP even when SP pitched Dharam Raj Singh Patel — a Kurmi by caste. In fact, Keshav Prasad Mourya won the Phoolpur Lok Sabha seat due to the Modi wave combined with Kurmi, Forward and other than Yadav OBCs. BJP plans to repeat this again as it was able to do the same in 2017 UP Assembly Polls too. But, for this, party workers of the BJP will have to ensure heavy turnout as it happened in 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 UP Assembly Polls.

Comparing polled votes of both SP, BSP and Congress in 2009 Lok Sabha Polls and 2014 Lok Sabha Polls, number of votes polled respectively by these three parties are almost same. For example, in 2009 BSP polled 1.67 lakh votes while in 2014 elephant could attract near 1.63 lakh votes.  Similarly, SP had polled 1.53 lakh votes in 2009 while in 2014, they eat into some Kurmi votes and muster near 1.95 lakh votes and came second to BJP’s Keshav Prasad Mourya who polled 5.03 lakh votes, nearly 4.6 lakh votes more than the party’s polled votes in 2009. Congress’s Md. Kaif polled near 58,000 votes while in 2009, the grand old party candidate Dharmaraj Singh Patel had polled near 67,600 thousand votes. Then the question is, how come BJP managed this much of jump in votes when its rival parties had polled almost same number of votes? This could happen because of the voter turnout. In 2014, net voter turnout was 9,60,341, though it was just half of the number of voters enrolled in Phoolpur Lok Sabha constituency. But, in 2009, the voter turnout was 5,51,917, which was only 38 percent of the net voters of the constituency.

Commenting upon the role of voter turnout in Uttar Pradesh and its impact on the poll outcome, political commentator Awadhesh Kumar said, “Generally it has been found that Forward Caste have remained less interested in franchising their voting rights. So, lower voter turnout hits BJP drastically, which is visible in 2009 and 2014 as well. Apart from this, as and when voting takes place Dalits, Muslims, Yadavas and some Other Backward Castes (OBC) come out in large number to defeat BJP.” Hence, heavy voter turnout is always advantage BJP in UP and other Hindi heartland.

In 2014, SP and BSP had put Kurmi and Brahmin candidates while the Congress party had filled cricketer Mohammad Kaif, an Ansari Muslim from the prestigious seat. On Mayawati contesting from Phoolpur as joint opposition candidate Kumar added, “If BSP chief contests from Phoolpur and BJP still in alliance with Apna Dal and its leader Anupriya Patel in Modi cabinet, Forward-Kurmi-other than Yadav OBCs combination is expected to consolidate behind BJP. She needs to crack into this combination at any cost because consolidation of Yadav-Muslim-Dalit falls neck and neck (in fact slightly lower) in the high profile constituency.” Since, the election would be fought on highly electrifying note; voter turnout is expected to remain on higher bottleneck. So, whole opposition including BSP cadre needs to fall back on other than Yadav OBCs.

“Attracting other than Yadav OBC won’t be easier for BSP as Yadavas have remained dominant among the OBCs due to the rise of Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and Delhi politics. This dominance has created a gap among the other than Yadav OBCs and Yadavas. Hence, other than Yadav OBCs vote in a tactical manner to ensure SP candidate’s defeat. Since, SP would be aligned with BSP, BJP would find it easier to attract them again,” said Awadhesh. The political commentator had words of caution, “If Mayawati wins, it would be her rise from the dust after successive annihilation in 2014 and 2017. However, if she loses, she may have to face series of revolts in her party raising questions over her leadership ability and style of party function.”