While all of us have been losing sweat over Narendra Modi, and the cricketing Armageddon down under, Mayawati‘s Bahujan Samaj Party has been making quiet but rapid strides. The party returned empty-handed in Gujarat, but it played spoilsport for the Congress in 20 of the 33 closely fought constituencies. On Christmas eve, Behenji addressed a massive public meeting in Bangalore to welcome the former minister P.G.R. Sindhia and his followers. And she is now in Madras, pushing her rainbow sarva dharma sambhav caste formula.
Mayawati is talking of bringing Dalits and the upper castes together, a move that paid rich dividents in Uttar Pradesh. And she is talking of reservation in the private sector not only for the Dalits, backward classes and minorities but also for the economically weaker among the upper castes. On television, the BSP’s Karnataka unit chief B. Gopal has been speaking of the how the party ate into the Congress’ voteshare in at least a couple of dozen constituencies. And, as if in acknowledgement, the Congress is set to target the party in UP.
Questions: Does the BSP stand a chance in Karnataka? Does it offer a viable, credible alternative against the old order? Which of the three main parties—Congress, BJP, JDS—stand to lose the most from the BSP’s growth? Will the BSP be able to strike a chord in urban Karnataka or is it likely to be a rural phenomenon? Does a northern party have the leadership to woo voters down south? Or will it have to be content with playing a minor role?
Also read: HINDOL SENGUPTA: Why I’m afraid of Mayawati
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News