The focus on ‘Sarvajan'(entire society) had taken precedence over the party’s original thrust on ‘Bahujan'(Majority, meaning Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward castes) in the Lok Sabha election.
The self-appraisal going on in the organisation after the poll outcome has yielded that one of the main reasons for the unexpected results was that Dalits found their agenda diluted and they simply did not feel enthused enough to come out to vote, party sources told UNI.
”Marathon stock taking was happening in the party, as a result of which party supremo Mayawati may be compelled to review its strategy of focussing on high castes in a bid to increase its vote bank,” they said.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has bagged 20 seats from Uttar Pradesh as compared to 19 in the 2004 election, whereas, it was expecting to get over 30 seats, basing its hope on its resounding victory in the Assembly elections in 2007.
Although the party increased its votes by two per cent as compared to the 2004 general elections, (It got 27 per cent votes this time against 25 per cent in 2004), the fact that its vote share went down considerably as compared to Assembly elections held in 2007 was causing great worry to the party. In the last Assembly polls, the party had got over 30 per cent votes.
Ms Mayawati has started the process of finding what went wrong and in this connection she has held brain-storming sessions with her ministers and party legislators.
The Chief Minister has warned the ministers to perform or quit and asked legislators to coordinate with the officers to ensure that people’s problems were quickly disposed and the ongoing development schemes and programmes were completed in a time bound manner.
Referring to the difficulties affecting proper implementation of schemes and programmes, she asked the legislators to bring them to her notice immediately.
”The message has gone clear that schemes and programmes of Ms Mayawati did not benefit Dalits, a problem compounded by her party’s dilution of Dalits agenda at the political level,” said a party worker.
This time the party had fielded around 20 Brahmin candidates, of whom five have won. However, in the reserved constituencies, the Brahmin vote could not be transferred to Dalit candidate. Instead, it went to the Congress, said a party insider.
It is generally believed that the party’s massive success in the Assembly polls two years ago was due to what is called ‘social engineering’ done by Ms Mayawati and her close confidant Satish Misra. Under the strategy, the party put up a large number of candidates of high castes and declared that it was widening its focus to encompass the interest of all the sections of the society than only of Dalits.
However, it is felt that this endeavour to bridge the gap between the high castes and Dalits was confined to the level of party leaders and organisational structure and could not percolate down to the masses.
It may be pointed out that hit by the poll outcome, Ms Mayawati has dissolved all the Bhaichara samitis constituted to increase her party’s engagements with other castes in a bid to expand its base. Party insiders also say that one more important cause of the party’s unimpressive performance was the organisational weakness.
Not much attention was paid to the monitoring and strengthening of the party units at the district and lower levels. That also led to selection of wrong candidates in the absence of any proper feedback from the lower units.
In fact, a scholar of Uttar Pradesh politics feels that Ms Mayawati in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections could not pay desired attention to the party matters in the state in an effort to give her party a pan-India base to stake claim for prime ministership of the country.
Party workers also felt that the Maywati administration also failed to prevent atrocities against Dalits, which made them apathetic to the party, and in the absence of any choice, they went back to their old party -the Congress.
In places where Dalits did not want to vote in favour of Congress candidates, they just did not bother to come out to vote at all.
”The bureaucracy simply did not cooperate with Ms Maywati in checking harassment of Dalits and the Chief Minister could not make them change their attitude,” they say.