Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav addresses supporters during an election roadshow at Bidhuna in Auraiya district. File

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav addresses supporters during an election roadshow at Bidhuna in Auraiya district. File
| Photo Credit: PTI

Amid the political war of words which continued for days over the removal of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) national coordinator and heir apparent of the Dalit-centric party chief Mayawati, Akash Anand, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav is giving a renewed push for Bahujan unity in favour of the SP-led INDIA bloc since the removal last week. He has been continuously appealing to Bahujan (Backwards and Dalits) for giving the SP-led alliance strength in its narrative of fighting to save the Constitution and reservation against the BJP, adding the other Bahujan forces have surrendered in front of the BJP. The SP leader claimed that people are contacting the Dalit-centric Babasaheb Vahini of the SP across the State and extending their support.

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“The way the people of Bahujan community are continuously coming forward to support us after our direct appeal has given new strength to our fight to save the Constitution and reservation against the BJP. People are contacting Samajwadi Party workers and the Babasaheb Vahini of the SP across the State and extending their support. With the people of Bahujan Samaj joining us, there is a new enthusiasm in our struggle for social justice,” said Mr. Yadav on May 12. The removal of Mr. Anand, who remained vocal against the BJP in his 2024 Lok Sabha campaign speeches, gave the opportunity to the SP to project itself as the flagbearer of the Bahujan cause, with Mr. Yadav leaving no stone unturned in claiming the decision of removal by the BSP highlights that the party is not a serious contender for the parliamentary polls and hence such sections opposed to the BJP must support the SP-led alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “Actually, the real reason behind this [Mr. Akash Anand’s removal] is that the BSP is not seen winning even a single seat because most of the traditional supporters of the BSP are also voting for INDIA alliance this time to save the Constitution and reservation. The BSP is taking this as a failure of its organisation. That is why its top leadership is making such a big change in the organisation but now the game has gone out of the BSP’s hands,” Mr. Yadav said. The SP chief added, “You know some parties are helping the BJP, we need to be cautious,”.

Idea of PDA govt.

The SP leader categorically claims that the Bahujan plank is continuously propagated by the party with the 2024 polls fought with the idea of PDA, Pichde (backward classes), Dalit and Alpasankhyak (minorities) government. “We have continuously pushed the Bahujan cause. The idea of PDA is Bahujan unity. The BSP has deviated from its path and struggle for marginalised sections, while we are fighting vehemently and giving proper representation to every Bahujan section,” said Sunil Singh Yadav, SP national spokesperson.

The SP, which is traditionally considered a Muslim-Yadav (MY) dominated party, gave 26 out of 63 tickets to non-Yadav backward communities with candidates hailing from Kurmis, an influential non-Yadav OBC social group getting nine tickets, Nishad community getting four tickets and communities like Kushwaha, Maurya and Shakya, who are sizeable in central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, getting six tickets. Only five Yadav candidates (all from the party president’s family), including Mr. Yadav, are fighting the polls. Similarly, in 17 reserved seats, many tickets have been allocated to the non-Jatav Dalits. It is the departure from the past where the Muslim-Yadav used to get above 40% of tickets from the SP.

Declining support base

The SP’s claim to represent the Bahujan cause is aimed at utilising the BSP’s, once a formidable player in Uttar Pradesh, declining support base evident from the past two Assembly and parliamentary elections and pressing itself as the only Bahujan-centric party of the State. “Apart from the Dalits, the BSP got a sizeable chunk of lower OBCs in 1990s and 2000s, preventing the SP from making deeper inroads among these sections, and with this new narrative Akhilesh is eyeing these groups along with sizeable Dalits who traditionally voted against the BJP,” said Satish K Jha, a political scientist following the State closely.

The BSP, which formed government in Uttar Pradesh on its own in 2007 Vidhan Sabha elections by winning 206 out of 403 seats, is presently having a lone MLA in the Assembly and lost almost 60% of its voter support. In 2007, it polled 30.43% votes, while in the last Assembly poll it got only 12.88% of the total polled votes.