Lucknow (AsiaNews) – The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati Kumari, a Dalit woman, has scored an overwhelming victory in state-wide elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and influential state. The outgoing chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has conceded defeat and submitted his resignation to the state’s governor. Meanwhile discussions are underway with other parties to form a majority government whilst the results get front and centre attention.
Thousands of BSP supporters have taken to the street across the state to celebrate the victory. With almost all the ballots counted, the BSP has doubled its seats (from 98 in 2002 to a projected more than 203 this time. The hitherto ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) under Mulayam Singh dropped from 143 to about 100. The Hindu nationalist Baharatiya Janata Party also suffered major loses, going from 88 seats to about 50 (worst score since 1991). By contrast, the Congress Party (CP) remained stable (23 seats vs 25). Smaller parties won the remainder of the seats.
If current results remain unchanged, the BSP will need partners to get a majority in the 403-member state assembly.
Mayawati’s victory was made possible by her ability to broaden the BSP’s appeal from its Dalit base to include people from all caste backgrounds and social conditions.
“Our target was the decimation of the Samajwadi Party and we have succeeded in it,” a CP federal minister said as he congratulated the winner. His party is keeping its options open on supporting BSP in Uttar Pradesh noting that the “BSP is not a political untouchable.”
The Varanasi-based Lenin Raghuvanshi, the 2007 Gwangiu Prize laureate, told AsiaNews that “a new era begins in the politics of Uttar Pradesh. Ms Mayawati fought on her own terms on a platform of respect for the rule of law. As a follower of Babab Saheb Ambedkar, I am happy that a Dalit woman is going to become the chief minister of UP, but I am afraid that her autocratic style and values go against those of Ambedkar.”
For John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, “election results are a rejection of the bad governance and corruption that had become the hallmark of the Mulayam administration. Not only did Mayawati get Dalit support but she was also backed by the poor from the upper castes as well as from religious minorities like the Christians. Let us hope she may provide security to everyone”.