Mayawati is ostensibly campaigning for her party’s 243 candidates. But there is a method to her political attacks. In her election rallies in Bihar, Mayawati has largely spared the ‘Grand Alliance’ parties – the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and Congress. None of these three parties are a challenger to the BSP in UP.
Mayawati has singled out for her staccato but effective onslaught on – she calls it a quasi-alliance – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP). At times she has even batted for the ‘Grand Alliance’. She told the sizeable crowds that thronged her public meetings in Kaimur and Rohtas districts of Bihar on October 13 how the SP “betrayed” the “secular forces” when it parted ways with the ‘Grand Alliance’ on "instructions of the BJP".
She even alleged how it was common knowledge that the BJP even decided the SP’s candidates for the Bihar polls. Mayawati said the SP was a “toy in BJP’s hands” and that it has fielded its candidates to favour the BJP against the RJD and JD (U). She said little to the crowd about voting for BSP candidates.
On October 9, the ninth death anniversary of Kanshi Ram, the founder of the BSP, Mayawati said the BJP wanted to make India a Hindu Rashtra and is unleashing an “abhorrent” conspiracy to end caste-based reservations. She said UP’s Dadri incident, where a Hindu mob lynched a 52-year-old Muslim on suspicion of consuming beef, was BJP’s attempt at communal polarisation of Bihar. “The BJP, if it succeeds in capturing power in Bihar, will then turn to UP,” she said. The BJP and SP are the BSP's chief rivals in UP.
The BSP didn’t win a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but was the party that received the third largest number of votes across India after the BJP and Congress.
Its presence in the Bihar elections has been marginal in the past. The BSP won two of the 238 seats it contested in February 2005 elections and polled 4.5% votes. In October 2005 elections, the party won four seats of the 212 it contested, bagging 4.75% votes. In the 2010 elections, the BSP couldn’t win a single of the 239 seats it contested and polled 3.27% of the votes on seats contested.
The BSP might be incidental as an electoral force in Bihar, but Mayawati’s voice as the most important Dalit leader of our times carries significant weight for the Dalits and Extremely Backward Castes in that state.
Bihar has a 15-16% Dalit population, including 5% Paswans, and nearly 30% of Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) comprising 114 castes.