Refurbished BSP takes power on its own in Uttar Pradesh
May 11, 2007 - 5:09:24 PM
Lucknow, May 11 - Three-times chief minister Mayawati Friday steered the Bahujan Samaj Party - to a spectacular victory in Uttar Pradesh, demolishing everyone else and scoring a razor thin majority in the 403-seat assembly.
Having transformed the once exclusively Dalit BSP to one wooing all social classes, Mayawati, 51, was set to rule India's most populous and politically key state on her own with a projected 211 seats for her party.
It is the first time since 1991 any party has won a majority in Uttar Pradesh.
The sheer scale and spread of her win, from New Delhi's border in the west all the way to the eastern region close to Bihar, stunned even her friends, sparking frenzied celebrations by thousands of her mostly poor Dalit supporters dressed in many places in simple vests.
Shouting 'Mayawati Zindabad' and 'BSP Zindabad', the BSP backers took to the streets in virtually every town and city across Uttar Pradesh, bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
A humbled Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, left behind at a distant second, submitted his resignation to Governor T.V. Rajeshwar and then vented his anger at the Congress party and the Election Commission. The Samajwadi Party gets 98 seats - 45 less than in 2002.
The Bharatiya Janata Party -, which had been dreaming of making a comeback in Uttar Pradesh, was badly punctured. To the shock of its leadership, it won 40 seats - its worst showing in the state since 1991.
As for the Congress, it was left in the dumps with a mere 23 seats, marginally less than its pathetic showing of 2002, proving that party boss Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul Gandhi had failed to click.
Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, one of the few who predicted a clear BSP victory as far back as April 9, two days after the staggered elections began in the state, credited the BSP win to Mualayam Singh Yadav's misrule.
Rao told IANS that almost every caste and religious group had voted for BSP.
'Such a victory would have been unthinkable but for Mulayaam's poor governance,' he said. 'This time governance was on top of the agenda. Caste was not the in the forefront. This is the real story of this election.
'Because Mualayam too has a caste base, he managed to deflect mass anger to a great extent,' he went on. 'The BJP and Congress, without significant support of caste groups, got mauled.'
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the political class in congratulating Mayawati, a schoolteacher who took to politics in 1984, the year BSP was born, and quickly rose the ladder under the guidance of BSP's founder leader and mentor Kanshi Ram.
She briefly became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for the first time in 1995 - also the first time any Dalit ruled any state. She again governed Uttar Pradesh in 1997 and 2002-3.
Mayawati is poised to be the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 166 million, for a fourth time - now for five years.
Friday's victory makes Mayawati a major factor in India's upcoming presidential polls since the voters are members of parliament and assemblies in the state.
The clout in Uttar Pradesh, which elects 80 MPs and has accounted for most of India's prime ministers, would also make BSP a key player nationally.
In recent years, Mayawati brought about a radical shift in BSP by embracing all communities including the Hindu upper castes it once so openly despised.
Staggered elections in Uttar Pradesh took place from April 7 to May 8, and 50 million voters exercised their franchise in complete peace. BSP supporters rated this as one of the main reasons for their victory.
But Mulayam Singh blamed the Election Commission, saying it had tried to run a parallel government throughout the election.
The Congress tried to reach out to Mayawati.
'Congratulations to Mayawati. The benefit of our campaign went to the BSP,' Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal remarked, referring to the aggressive anti-Samajwadi campaign his party undertook.
The BJP's actor-turned-politician Shatrugan Sinha also hailed Mayawati's win and said: 'It is time for introspection for all of us. We have not been able to live up to the expectations of the people.'
The Left was wiped out, as were the Apna Dal party that had lined up with BJP and the Jan Morcha of former prime minister V.P. Singh.
Mayawati has vowed to send Mualayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh to jail on charges of corruption and criminality if she forms a government.
The blows to Samajwadi Party were so severe that party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who contested from two constituencies, trailed in one: Bharthana. Several of his colleagues were humbled.
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