BSP chief Mayawati. (File)
Making the fourth change in eight months in the post of BSP leader in Lok Sabha, party chief Mayawati has removed Amroha MP Danish Ali from the post for a second time and replaced him with Ritesh Pandey — a Brahmin — the Lok Sabha member from Ambedkar Nagar in UP.
In a tweet, the BSP chief justified it as a move to maintain “social cohesion” in the party.
In successive tweets on Monday, Mayawati said in Hindi: “Considering that party leader in Lok Sabha and party’s Uttar Pradesh unit president are from the same community, some changes have been made to maintain social cohesion in the party. Now Ritesh Pandey has been nominated as leader in Lok Sabha and Bijnor MP Malook Nagar as (Lok Sabha) deputy leader. UP state president Munquad Ali will continue on his post.”
Incidentally, as a BSP leader pointed out, the party’s leaders in both Lok Sabha (Ritsh Pandey) and Rajya Sabha (S C Mishra) are now Brahmins.
Mayawati also stated that Lalji Verma (an OBC) will continue as party leader in UP Vidhan Sabha and Dinesh Chandra (a Dalit) will continue as BSP leader in Vidhan Parishad.
Mayawati made the changes a day before her 64th birthday on Wednesday, to be marked by party workers as “Jankalyankari Diwas”. She is scheduled to address the media and release the 15th volume of BSP’s ‘blue book’ — A Travelogue of My Struggle-Ridden Life and BSP Movement — in Lucknow on the occasion.
Why Maya is making so many changes
BSP chief Mayawati’s move to make so many changes to the position of party leader in Lok Sabha seems to be an attempt to explore the best possible combination to draw “non-Dalit” voters and find a suitable social equation in combination with the party’s core vote base of Dalits before 2022 UP Assembly polls. While Shyam Singh Yadav’s appointment as LS leader, Ritesh Pandey as LS deputy leader and Munquad Ali as UP unit president in August 2019 was expected to translate into a Muslim-OBC-upper caste combination, and add to the party’s sizeable Dalit vote-bank, BSP failed to win a single seat in bypolls to 11 Assembly seats in UP in October 2019.
After 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BSP had appointed party’s MP from Nagina, Girish Chandra (a Dalit), to lead its 10-member team in the newly elected House.
The BSP had then voiced for a “Dalit-Yadav-Muslim” social equation while nominating Jaunpur MP Shyam Singh Yadav as LS deputy leader and Danish Ali as chief whip in the House.
But just before the opening session of 17th Lok Sabha, Chandra was replaced with Ali as the floor leader. On August 7, Ali was replaced with Shyam Singh Yadav — Mayawati had then called it a step to make balance in “sarvasamaj”, or an outreach to all communities. Ritesh Pandey was then appointed BSP deputy leader of Lok Sabha, and former Rajya Sabha MP Munqad Ali made UP BSP president.
On November 6, days before the winter session of Parliament got under way, Mayawati reappointed Danish as BSP Lok Sabha leader — his predecessor, Shyam Yadav, was given organisational responsibility in BSP’s UP unit.
Party sources said Danish has left for London to avoid the party’s celebration of Mayawati’s birth anniversary. Danish is said to have opposed such celebrations at a time when there is a nationwide uproar on issues such as citizenship law and NRC.