Will the Congress face the Dalit wrath?
The assertion by outgoing chief minister Mayawati that the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party were responsible for her defeat and the victory of the Samajwadi Party could force the Congress in particular to rework its poll strategies in the future. Mayawati who is also the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the top most Dalit leader of the country has further claimed that the Dalits were totally behind her and they voted in huge numbers for her. This is the reason why she has come second in most of the constituencies won by the SP.
The political implication of her categorical statement from her standpoint is that the reason for her losing the chief ministership was the wrong kind of posturing by Congress leaders who by raising the sub quota issue in the middle of the campaign pushed the Muslims towards the SP. In other words, the Congress was to blame to a large degree for dislodging a Dalit leader. By stating so, she sent a strong message to the Dalit constituency that both the Congress and the BJP were anti Dalit.
Since the BJP’s vote bank has always been upper castes, OBCs and others, Mayawati’s analysis of her defeat is going to hit the Congress the hardest as it is the only other major party that the Dalits have identified themselves with in the past. For the political managers in the Congress who had introduced the Muslim sub quota issue during the campaign, it is something they never anticipated.
What could be most worrying for the top Congress leadership is that the Muslims instead of being attracted to the Grand Old Party despite the most blatant overture have preferred the SP as it was better organized and had an infra structure. And after Mayawati’s statement, the Dalits also could have turned against it making the task of the party even more difficult in subsequent polls. With the Muslims and Dalits not a part of its core base, the Congress will find it absolutely impossible to win any major polls in several states in the future.
As it is, the Congress deviated from its principle of being a party for all the castes and communities by openly talking about Muslims and most backward constituencies. In the process, some of its traditional supporters moved away from it for playing the communal and caste card. This will obviously have huge ramifications in other states. The Congress president also today said that the party would go into the reasons for the party’s poor performance in the state. Perhaps when this introspection is done, the Congress leadership will take cognizance of what Mayawati has said and find ways of regaining its fast eroding vote base.