On Sunday, Bahujan Samaj Party announced its fourth and final list of candidates for 101 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh. With the final list out, BSP has made public the names of people contesting from 401 seats from a total of 403 constituencies.
Candidates for the two remaining seats in Sonebhadra district will be finalised after a decision is taken as to whether they are general or reserved for ST, the party said.
The final list reveals that BSP has fielded 12 more Muslim candidates this time to ensure Dalit-Muslim consolidation in a bid to wrest power from Samajwadi Party.
Out of the 403 seats up for grabs, BSP had prepared a final list comprising 97 Muslim candidates (12 more than 2012), 87 Dalits and 106 OBCs, besides earmarking 113 seats for upper castes — Brahmins 66, Kshatriyas 36 and others 11.
Since Muslims account for nearly 20 per cent of the voters in Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati decided to field more candidates belonging to that community, playing her Dalit-Muslim consolidation card to come back to power.
Muslims, who had by and large supported SP in the 2012 elections, are in a quandary in view of the squabblings in the Yadav family and factional fight between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
With a weak Samajwadi Party, Muslims will look for alternatives and Mayawati wants to be at the right place at the right time, say analysts.
If she manages to direct the entire Muslim vote her way, she could pose a tough challenge to BJP and SP, they believe.
Before releasing the fourth list of candidates, Mayawati presided over a meeting of party office-bearers, leaders, legislators, MPs and party candidates where she told them to fan out in their respective constituencies and work for BSP’s victory.
She also asked her party leaders to expose Samajwadi Party government on lawlessness and the Centre on demonetisation.
The former chief minister took potshots at the Yadav family spat saying voters should not spoil their ballots by backing Samajwadi Party as doing this would indirectly benefit BJP in the polls.
An analysis of the complete list released by BSP brings out an interesting fact that it is not Dalits but the upper caste which has got the second biggest share after Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh goes to polls in seven phases between February 11 and March 8.
(With inputs from PTI)