“When the ruling party is not allowing me time to present my view on the current issues, then I think it is better for me to resign.” These words of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on the second day of the monsoon session of Rajya Sabha reflect her failure to maintain her old status in Indian politics.
After this furious outburst in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati resigned from her post as Member of Parliment. Mayawati cited her reason for resigning to reporters that “If I can’t speak about our weaker sections in the House then I have no right to stay in the House. This is the reason I have decided to quit from Rajya Sabha, I am not being heard, not allowed to speak.”
If you decipher this resignation, then it looks more like a tactic than an episode of emotional outrage. Mayawati’s Rajya Sabha tenure would have ended in April 2018. The second most important reason behind her resignation is to regain the lost trust of Dalits. The Dalit vote bank was the main contributor in her 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly win as well as the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election loss. In the 2017 state election in Uttar Pradesh, this Dalit vote bank leaned towards the BJP resulting in a landslide victory for the BJP and decimation of BSP. Now, many Dalits may also be leaning towards the newly formed Bhim Army which emerged after the Saharanpur riots. So, to incarnate its old so-called Dalit messiah image, Mayawati played that gamble.
This so-called courageous step by Mayawati initially looks like a self-goal. Even BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asserts that this move will not benefit her. These words can become true in the future if this resignation creates a lacuna in Dalit politics. This space can create a window of opportunity for young Dalit leaders like Jignesh Mevani and Chandrashekhar. The BSP losing the trust of the Dalits can also spiral if this lacuna in Dalit politics remains for a longer period. This electoral distrust could also be seen in the 2017 UP assembly election, where the party bagged only two seats out of the 84 reserved for the Scheduled Castes. This is the first time since 1996, the BSP is neither the ruling party nor the principal opposition in UP assembly.
The main rationale behind this resignation will be seen in the upcoming by-poll election of Phulpur and Gorakhpur. There are speculations that Mayawati will contest in these by-poll elections. The speculations come after Mayawati’s statement “I have been four times CM, I have contested and won Lok Sabha polls, I have won MLA elections. Whenever necessary I have got nominated to the Rajya Sabha (sic).” The Phulpur seat is demographically suitable for BSP and there is a good majority of Dalit voters in Phulpur. The good thing is that Mayawati’s mentor Kanshi Ram also fought from this seat in 1996.
If Mayawati can turn this possibility into a reality it will again echo the message that Mayawati is still the messiah of Dalits. This will again raise her cult image in Indian polity. After this, her position in the Grand Alliance (which is in the pre-stage of its birth) will increase. According to the 2011 Census, 16.6% of India’s population is Scheduled Caste. Without this 16.6% mandate, no party can form its government.
For BSP supremo Mayawati, there is still a long way to travel. This walk will be no less than walking on a tight rope. The BSP’s future is now in Mayawati’s hands. It will be very interesting to see whether Mayawati will align with the opposition for her re-election to the Rajya Sabha or contest in the upcoming by-poll elections.