Now Maya woos other Dalit sub-castes

LUCKNOW: In a bid to strengthen her grip over other sub-castes among dalits, chief minister and BSP national president Mayawati on Sunday said that she might belong to a different caste among dalits but she had taken steps for the welfare of other Dalit sub-castes and most backward castes as well.

Addressing election meetings in Barabanki and Bahraich, Maya said that she came form Chamar caste but when a "Pasi Ki Beti" was harassed and killed in Faizabad by a BSP minister, she lost no time in sending the culprit behind the bars. "The minister is still in jail and let me tell you that I am `Chamar ki beti' but for me honour and respect of `betis' born in other castes are equally important," she said referring to the Shashi murder case in Faizabad in which a teenager Pasi girl was ALLEGEDLY sexually exploited and killed by Anandsen Yadav, BSP MLA from Milkipur. Yadav was minister in Maya government when the scandal broke out in December 2007. He was dropped from the cabinet and arrested.

Maya's speech emphasising on "Pasi Ki Beti" assumes importance because Pasi presence is strong in seven constituencies going to polls in third phase of elections -- Mohanlalganj, Hardoi, Barabanki, Bahriach, Mishrikh, Lucknow and Sitapur. Of these, Bahriach, Barabanki, Hardoi and Mohanlalganj are reserved seats. Barring Barabanki, BSP has never won the other three seats. In Sitapur and Mishrikh, BSP won in 2004 because of Dalit-Muslim combination. Pasis vote for BSP but have never been a solid vote bank like the Chamars and other sub-castes. Generally, all the political parties put up Pasi candidates in these said four reserved constituencies, causing a split in the voting pattern of the community.

In fact, BSP lost Bhadohi assembly by-elections in February this year because of split in the Pasi votes and poor turnout of Brahmins. Maya knows that apart from Chamars she will have to muster support of other sub-castes among dalits to form a solid vote bank. This vote bank when combined even with a small percentage of Brahmins becomes a powerful combination. Muslims vote tactically for candidate who can defeat the BJP. Hence, Maya's Dalit and Brahmin combination attracts Muslims. This combination brought her to power after 2007 assembly elections. But in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Maya may not get Brahmin support as in 2007. As a result, she wants to consolidate all Dalit sub-castes.

Mayawati also wants to bring most backward castes (MBC) under her Sarvjan umbrella. That's why she has promised to include 16 MBCs in scheduled caste (SC) category, if voted to power at the Centre. These MBCs are Kewat, Kahar, Kashyap, Mallah, Nishad, Kumhar (Prajapati), Dheevar, Bind, Machhiara, Lonia, Nonia, Lohia-Chauhan and Dhangar. Nearly 64 per cent of UP's population comprises SCs, MBCs and OBCs. SCs alone are 30 per cent, of which Chamars are more than 50 per cent. There are 60 sub-castes in SC category spread over all over UP and their population in various constituencies vary between 10-30 per cent. Maya is also trying to attract backward among Muslims and poor Brahmins by promising reservation benefits.