Mayawati names new UP BSP chief, signals strategy for 2022 polls

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati, on Sunday, named Bhim Rajbhar as the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit president with an eye on other backward castes (OBC) votes in the 2022 assembly election.

In a tweet, Mayawati congratulated Rajbhar on his appointment as BSP’s state unit president.

Rajbhar will replace Munkad Ali who has been made the state coordinator of Uttarakhand. The decision to appoint a new president comes five days after BJP swept the results of the by-election on seven assembly seats by winning six and leaving one for the Samajwadi Party. The BSP failed to win even a single seat, though the party candidate was runner-up on the Bulandshahr seat.

The BSP polled 19% votes, indicating that it enjoys the support of the Dalit community but may have to regain the support of its traditional OBC vote base to win the 2022 assembly election.

The removal of Munkad Ali, considered the Muslim face of the BSP, has surprised political observers. In the by-election, Mayawati had fielded two Muslim candidates: Mohammad Muslim on the Bulandshahar seat and Furkan on Naugawan Sadat seat. Despite courting controversy with her statement that BSP will support the BJP candidate in the legislative council election to ensure the defeat of the Samajwadi Party candidate, the BSP candidates were runner-up on the Bulandshahar seat by polling 65,917 votes, and third on Naugawan Sadat seat, by polling 38,253 votes.

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Meanwhile, the BJP, SP and the Congress are trying to woo the OBC before the crucial 2022 assembly election. To counter their move, Rajbhar was appointed the new state president. The party wishes to send a message to the backward community that they will get a prominent place in the organisation, a BSP leader said.

While Munkad Ali was removed from the state unit president’s post, the BSP is working to strengthen its base in the Muslim community. Muslim leaders have been made zonal coordinators in the organisation, while the party is also working on forming new alliances to expand the base in the Muslim community.

The BSP contested the assembly election in Bihar in alliance with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi. The Grand United Secular Front (GUSF) secured victory on six seats. While the AIMIM bagged five seats, the BSP secured victory on one seat. The BSP might replicate the Bihar experiment in UP assembly election by tying up again with the AIMIM which has expanded its base in the Muslim-dominated Rohilkhand region, the BSP leader said.

A loyal party leader, Bhim Rajbhar, is a resident of Mau district, located in Eastern UP. He held the post of the district unit president and was promoted to the rank of zonal coordinator.

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