Mayawati's Political Gamble: BSP's Isolation Sparks Potential Mass Defections

Unravelling the political puzzle surrounding Mayawati's recent decision to go solo in the 2024 elections. Why did past alliances prove pivotal for BSP's success, and will her solitary path lead to isolation?

Sharad Gupta
New Update

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s announcement to go it alone in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is a virtual admission of her political isolation and is likely to result in a mass exodus of her party leaders to other parties.

In a statement released on her birthday yesterday, she claimed that BSP’s vote bank was transferrable and any party entering into electoral alliance with it, gets befitted while BSP doesn’t gain anything out of such political wed-locks.

Past Alliances Data Challenge Mayawati's Solo Strategy

However, data doesn’t support her statement as BSP which had drawn a big zero in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when it contested on its own, managed to win 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 in alliance with the Samajwadi Party though its vote share remained constant at 19 per cent in both elections.

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BSP has had two electoral alliances in the past as well. In the 1993 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, held one year after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, BSP tied up with SP and won 67 out of 164 seats it contested. Its vote share zoomed from 10.26 per cent in 1991 (when it won only 12 seats out of 386 contexted) to 28.53 per cent – a gain of more than 18 per cent.

Its electoral partner SP who in its earlier avatar Janata Dal had won 92 seats with 21 per cent vote share in 1991, won 109 seats out of 256 seats it contested and at a vote share of 29.48 per cent – an increase of mere 8 per cent.

Clearly, BSP gained much more from the alliance than the Samajwadi Party.

Historical Context

Its second electoral alliance was in 1996 with Congress for UP Assembly elections in which BSP contested 296 seats leaving only 126 for the Congress. BSP tally remained at 67 with a vote share of 27.73 per cent – a loss of mere 1.5 per cent votes – while Congress won 33 seats with a vote share of 29 per cent – an improvement of five seats but almost doubling its vote share from 15 per cent in 1993 to 29 per cent in 1996.

Congress was a gainer in this case but BSP didn’t lose much either. Its seats remained constant but its vote share declined by 1.5 per cent.

BSP’s founder Kanshi Ram fell on bad health around this team and Mayawati started controlling the party effectively. She didn’t have any electoral partnership for next 25 years. Her next adventure with SP in 2019 elections proved beneficial to her – 10 seats – than SP which won only five Lok Sabha seats.

After that BSP contested only the 2022 UP Assembly elections on its own but its vote share plummeted to 12 per cent – its worst-ever performance ever since it entered the electoral fray in 1989 when it won 13 Assembly seats with 9.41 per cent vote share.

BSP in Isolation?

Mayawati’s purported logic for going it alone thus rings hollow. In fact, it’s a clear admission of her political isolation. Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav has been participating in the INDIA alliance meetings and has been in seat-sharing talks with the Congress in UP. BSP on the other hand, has been sitting idle. Nobody has approached it for an alliance in its political fiefdom, UP, so far and therefore it has no option but to contest the elections alone.

 The announcement has however, dashed the hopes – if there were any – of BSP leaders of being part of the opposition alliance. Feling left out and at a clear political disadvantage many of its 10 sitting MPs are likely to jump the ship.

While the vocal MP from Amroha, Kunwar Danish Ali, expelled from the party some time ago, is likely to join the Congress soon, other BSP MPs like Ritesh Pandey (Ambedkar Nagar), Afzal Ansari (Ghazipur), Hafiz ur Rahman (Saharanpur) are likely to join Samajwadi Party. Malook Nagar (Bijnore), Shyam Singh Yadav (Jaunpur) Ram Shiromani Verma and Sangeeta Azad (Lalganj) are reportedly in touch with the BJP.