New Delhi: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Sunday raised the issue of rising incidents of violence against Muslims and Dalits during a rally in Allahabad, ahead of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh early next year.
“Atrocities against Dalits and Muslims is increasing day by day and Muslims in the country are scared because of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) and RSS’s (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) communal agenda," Mayawati said, addressing her third election rally.
She also raised the issue of the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad in January and the incident in Una, Gujarat where four Dalit men were tied and beaten up by a group of cow vigilantes in July for skinning a dead cow.
The focus on winning the support of Muslims and Dalit communities was evident in her choice of Agra to launch her election campaign on 21 August which has a sizeable population of both Muslims and Dalits. This is Mayawati’s third rally—after rallies in Agra and Azamgarh— and she will be holding another one on 11 September in Saharanpur.
On the issue of reservation, she said: “While our party has been advocating reservation on economic basis for the poor upper caste people as well as Muslims and other backward castes both inside and outside the Parliament, not just the Congress but even the current BJP government has not acted on our demand."
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for featuring in an advertisement of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio mobile phone service and for lack of development in Varanasi from where he had won the Lok Sabha election in 2014.
“Ignoring government-run companies, the PM is now taking part in advertisements of private companies. Till now he hasn’t even visited the flood-affected areas in Varanasi," she said.
Also attacking the Congress for wooing the upper castes in the state by selecting Sheila Dikshit, a popular Brahmin face, as its chief ministerial candidate, she said, “After independence, the Congress party ruled UP for almost 37 years but due to its flawed policies was thrown out of the state as well as the Centre. Now, the party is trying to woo the upper caste community of the state."
She also took on the current Samajwadi Party (SP) government, blaming them for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
Political analysts say Mayawati is focusing on Dalits and minorities as they had once helped her come to power but drifted away during the last assembly election.
“The Dalit-Muslim-non-Yadav OBC-upper caste combination voted Mayawati to power in 2007 but she lost their support, especially the Muslims to SP in the 2012 assembly election. Similarly, we saw a portion of the Dalit vote shift to BJP during the Lok Sabha election in 2014. Thus she is making all efforts to win back their vote," said S.K. Dwivedi, a Lucknow-based political analyst.