16 Jan, 2012, 02.49AM IST, Man Mohan Rai,ET Bureau
UP elections: Mayawati banking on rainbow coalition & support
LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati signalled that she is
banking on retaining support from across the social spectrum, when she
announced her party's candidates for the upcoming assembly polls amid
a low-key celebration for her 56th birthday on Sunday.
The distribution reflects the contribution made by each caste and
community to the growth of the Bahujan Samaj Party, she said, adding
that she has thrown out tainted members and sacked several ministers
and leaders in order to clean up the party.
The BSP chief confronts twin challenges of allegations of large-scale
graft against her government and possibly dwindling support of the
non-Dalit voters that had rallied around her during the previous
polls. The list of 403 candidates, with the largest block of 117 going
to the upper castes, indicates the party is seeking a repeat of the
2007 elections, when upper castes and Muslims, in particular,
augmented its core Dalit support base. Of these, 74 tickets have gone
to the Brahmins, down from 86 in 2007, and 33 to the kshatriyas.
While the party is fielding 88 candidates belonging to the Scheduled
Castes, it has given 113 tickets to OBC candidates, a majority of
which are non-Yadav OBCs. BSP is also fielding 85 Muslims, the
community that its main rival SP is striving to win back and Congress
is aggressively trying to wean away.
BSP has dropped about 105 sitting MLAs, preferring to field fresh
faces as it seeks a renewed mandate to govern the state for another
term. Among those who have bagged the tickets are family members and
relatives of party leaders, including Shikha Mishra, wife of former
health minister Anant Kumar Mishra, a close relative of Mayawati's
trusted lieutenant Satish Chandra Mishra. The son and daughter of
state BSP president Swami Prasad Maurya and the wife of party MP
Brijesh Pathak are also being fielded by the party.
Dressed in a pink salwar suit and sporting a diamond necklace and big
earrings, Mayawati stressed she opted for a muted celebration on her
birthday so as not to violate the Election Commission's model code of
conduct. There was none of the fanfare associated with her regular
birthday celebrations, when thousands of supporters flock to greet her
in the state capital decked up for the occasion.
She accused the EC of harbouring an anti-Dalit mentality and a
pro-Congress bias, hitting out at its directive to cover up her
statues and those of the elephants, her party's symbol, in memorials
and parks built during her rule. "This has provided our party free
publicity for several days as the media covered the issue extensively
for several days. I wish that these politicians continue to take such
steps so that the BSP continues to benefit out of it," she said, with
a beaming smile.
" Khula haathi laakh ka, band haathi sava-laakh ka (An uncovered
elephant is worth a lakh while a veiled elephant is worth 1.25 lakh),"
she said, claiming that the commission's directive will prove
counterproductive and benefit her party.
Exhorting the EC to extend its logic to symbols of other parties, she
said hand pumps installed through government funds in thousands of
villages should also be covered up because the hand pump is the
Rashtriya Lok Dal's election symbol. The elephant, much like the
symbols of the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the palm
and the lotus respectively, is derived from the Indian tradition, she
She also accused the EC of removing two Dalit officers - principal
secretary-home, Kunwar Fateh Bahadur, and DGP Brij Lal - under the
influence of the Congress party.
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