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Mayawati bets on Brahmin-Dalit card for U.P. polls

Special Correspondent

Upper castes and OBCs dominate list of party candidates for UP elections



Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati releasing the list of her candidates for the UP elections in Lucknow on Tuesday. - PHOTO: SUBIR ROY

LUCKNOW: Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati on Tuesday unveiled her election strategy of using the Brahmin-Dalit combination to her party's advantage in the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh. The list of BSP candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly constituencies released by her here showed a predominance of upper caste candidates, of whom Brahmins got the maximum number of seats.

Of the 139 tickets given to the upper caste candidates, Brahmin candidates account for 86, Thakurs 38 and Vaishyas 14 while ticket to contest only one seat has been given to a Kayastha candidate.

Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates have been fielded in 110 constituencies and Dalits in 93. Of the 403 constituencies, 89 are reserved for various sections but the BSP leader has decided to field Scheduled Caste candidates for four general category seats.

Interestingly, Muslims account for the least number of seats, 61, and barring seven sitting MLAs, the rest have been re-nominated.

Releasing the list, Ms. Mayawati declared that she herself would not be a candidate in these elections.

In charting out her strategy, the BSP leader has reposed more faith in the upper castes, primarily the Brahmins who have been assiduously wooed by her over the last couple of years through a series of Brahmin conventions. The trend of breaking away from the conventional BSP mould of "Bahujan Samaj" or "Dalit resurgence" by taking the Muslims along -- the political philosophy originally propounded by Ms. Mayawati's mentor Kanshi Ram -- was initiated in the 2002 elections when 92 upper caste candidates were given tickets. The Brahmins accounted for 37 of them followed by Thakurs (36). The Vaishyas and Kayasthas were fielded for six and three seats, respectively.

In a bid to consolidate BSP's Brahmin support base this time round, 86 Brahmin candidates have been fielded while the share of Thakur candidates has remained almost the same. Along with the Brahmins, the BSP leader had simultaneously launched a campaign to woo the Vaishyas or Baniya community. Several Vaishya conferences were held throughout UP in 2005 and 2006.

Since Ms. Mayawati's thrust is on strengthening the Brahmin-Scheduled Caste political combination, the share of OBCs has declined from 122 seats in the 2002 elections to 110 for the upcoming polls.

The share of Muslim candidates has also declined. In the 2002 Assembly elections, 85 Muslims had been fielded compared to 61 this time.

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