Despite its underwhelming performance in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, thewon all five seats in Ambedkarnagar district – four of its MLAs being former BSP leaders who joined the party in the run-up to the polls. Among them is Lalji Verma, once a close aide of BSP chief Mayawati. ASAD REHMAN spoke to LALJI VERMA on what went wrong for the SP and BSP in this election. Excerpts of the interview:
Why the SP failed to garner a majority in the UP elections, while the rulingcruised to an absolute majority?
The BJP has been successful in misleading people based on its religious agenda. And wherever the party was successful in doing so, it won. In places where they could not do this, they faced big defeats. As compared to the last elections, BJP’s tally has dropped by 55 seats… people voted in favour of the BJP because of religious mobilization…
You were among the tallest leaders of the BSP, which has now been left to just one seat. BSP chief Mayawati has said that the Muslim vote shifted to SP, and the community made a mistake in doing so. What do you think of BSP’s political future?
Muslims have voted for the SP, and there is no doubt in it… The BSP has no base among people. It has got only 12 per cent votes… The party has no leader from backward castes. It gave maximum tickets to Brahmins and Muslims… And doesn’t have support of any Dalit castes except Jatavs. Because of these reasons, the BSP was not in contention in this election, and it will continue to be like that.
Do you think BSP erred in giving much importance to its general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra? What do you think of their Brahmin outreach programme?
He (Mishra) is not qualified for the leadership role. Any party has a core ideology… If you move towards ‘manuvad’, then you have abandoned the party’s basic ideals, and naturally the voters will leave you.
What went right for the SP in Ambedkarnagar district, but not in the state level?
Ambedkarnagar has always stayed away from the politics of hate… the people of Ambedkarnagar have not voted on religious lines…
How is SP preparing to stay in the Opposition for five years?
… I am confident that the SP will fill the gaps that were left this time…
This time, the SP forged alliances with smaller parties like Om Prakash Rajbhar’s SBSP, and parties with a base among non-Yadav OBCs. But it could not reap the benefits it was hoping for. What went wrong?
The SP’s alliances have benefited the party. But like I said, there are some communities which are not part of the mainstream that get behind BJP on the basis of religion. The BJP has not got votes on its capabilities. The communal speeches by the Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) and Prime Minister () have benefitted them.