Lucknow: The seats reserved for the scheduled castes which have played decisive roles in some assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in the past may play a crucial role in the upcoming poll too. The major political parties in the state are aware of it and are, therefore, likely to pay more attention to them. The reserve seats number 85.
The Bahujan Samaj Party which largely depends on Daliit votes is more concerned because victory on majority of reserve seats by the party in 2007 assembly elections had helped it form government in the state on its own. The party had bagged as many as 62 such seats.
The party lost its majority in the next assembly election as it could win only 15 reserved seats. The Samajwadi Party had captured most of these seats in that election which had helped it take up the reins. The party had won 58 of these seats out of the total 224 including general seats.
Members of the schedules castes who are better known as Dalits also matter in general constituencies as they account for more than 21 per cent of the total population of the state which presently is 22 crores out of which eligible voters are over 14 crores.
The western part of the state has sizable Dalit population which is the main reason why BSP chief Mayawati always puts stress on the region. She has decided to field this time candidates belonging to chamar or Jatav caste in 10 out of 17 reserved constituencies in the area as this caste dominates.
A close look at assembly results since 1993 indicates that excepting 2007 the party had not won more than 23 reserved seats in any election so far. In 1993 it had captured 23 seats during this period which was the highest excluding 2007.
As far as the Lok Sabha elections are concerned, the party had a mixed fortune. It drew a blank in the last poll while it had won five and two seats in 2004 and 2009, respectively.
Dalit-Brahmin- Muslim combination have helped the party in the past and may come to its rescue again. It can hope to get better minority support in the coming election because the Samajwadi Party, its main rival, is a divided house, In addition to the SP, the BSP, was their favourite.
The party, however, has to worry about the growing influence of the Bhartiya Janta Party in addition to the SP. The BJP has made several moves to win over Dalits. The latest is to name the new app for payment of cash as BHIM. Mayawati has seen though the game and, therefore, described this name as an insult to the party icon, Bhimrao Ambedkar.
The lists of these two rivals are not yet out but both are likely to allot fair number of seats to Dalit to make a dent into the BSP vote-bank.