Saturday, July 3, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Maya's name game has paid poll dividends

Courtesy: Mail Today

Maya's name game has paid poll dividends
Piyush Srivastava
Lucknow, July 3, 2010

Whoever says what's in a name should take a closer look at the Bahujan
Samaj Party's (BSP) electoral history.

It's not for no reason that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has
renamed the district carved out of Rahul Gandhi's constituency Amethi
as Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Nagar.

A name, or names, may well have been behind the rise and rise of the
BSP's political fortune. Whenever in power, Mayawati has created new
districts and named them after Dalit reformers. The strategy,
political analysts say, has given her electoral dividends in the long

Her party leaders believe it has been a motivating factor for Dalit
voters to gradually mobilise under her leadership. Mayawati created
Ambedkar Nagar out of Faizabad in June 1995 after she became chief
minister for the first time. Out of five assembly seats falling in the
district at that time, her party had won only two - Katehari and

But she reaped the dividends of her strategy in the 2007 assembly
elections when she also won the three remaining seats - Chanda,
Gosainganj and Ambedkar Nagar. Significantly, the BSP chief repeatedly
reminded the voters during campaigning that she had named the district
after a Dalit icon for the community's pride.

Analysts say a careful and strategic planning goes into selecting the
areas from which new districts are carved out and named after Dalit

"She is doing this in places where she is either strong or sees a
possibility to gain substantially," said A.K. Verma, professor of
political science at Kanpur's Christ Church College.

"This is part of an effort to gradually create high-visibility areas
for the BSP. If she names the areas after the leaders of a particular
community, she is bound to gain in future. It is long-term politics…
it consolidates her vote bank," Verma said.

Why the strategy is working for Mayawati is summed up by BSP MLA from
Sisani, Gendalal Chaudhary. "It is related to Dalit pride. Our leaders
and iconic personalities have been ignored by all the political
parties. The people gain confidence when she names an area after a
thinker who is known for Dalit uplift," Chaudhary said.

According to an estimate, the BSP has gained at least three dozen
assembly seats in the districts named after Dalitthinkers.

Sant Kabir Nagar was carved out of Basti in March 1997, when Mayawati
was CM for six months. At that time, her party held only the Haisar
Bazar assembly seat in the district.

But in the 2007 polls, it won four out of the five seats Haisar Bazar,
Khalilabad, Khesraha and Sant Kabir Nagar - falling in the district.

The BSP also won four of the five seats in Basti district - Basti,
Mahadewa, Kaptanganj and Ram Nagar.

Gautam Buddha Nagar was created out of Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr
districts in June 1997. At that time, the BSP had two seats there.

Though the composition of the constituencies falling in the district
completely changed after delimitation, the BSP now holds all the six
assembly seats in the district - Jewar, Dadri, Noida, Greater Noida,
Sikandarabad and Khurja.

Similarly, three of the five assembly seats falling in the Jyotiba
Phule Nagar district, which was mainly carved out of Amroha in April
1997, are now with the BSP. Earlier, the party had only one seat

In 1997, the Hathras district was formed and renamed Mahamaya Nagar (
named after Gautam Buddha's mother). Mayawati's party, which didn't
have a single seat there at that time, opened its account in the 2002
state polls with one seat and gained two seats - Hathras and Sisani -
in the 2007 polls. A BSP leader said: " She renames those areas where
she sees great hope for the party.

But she also changes the names of those areas where the BSP is in a
strong position." Political observers pointed out that in April 2008,
she created Kanshiram Nagar by dividing Etah district and has now
renamed Kanpur Rural as Ramabai Nagar because she sees a potential to
develop these areas as a BSP stronghold.

The Samajwadi Party scrapped some of the decisions of Mayawati when it
was in power. For example, it had withdrawn her earlier notification
to create the Sahuji Maharaj Nagar district in 2003.

Despite that, she has gained from these decisions.

Now, Rahul's Amethi has become the ninth district to be renamed after
a Dalit icon. Given her electoral success after renaming districts,
Mayawati must be hoping to endear herself to the Dalits in his
constituency. But it will take much more than just renaming Amethi to
make inroads into the Congress scion's family bastion.


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