Politics/North India/Uttar Pradesh
Mayawati’s campaign turns a new leaf in UP
By Mohit Dubey
People change with times. In Uttar Pradesh, where voters are being wooed left and right, the most striking election campaign although low profile is of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Raring to wrest power from arch rival Samajwadi Party (SP), the BSP has changed tack and gone for a different brand of campaign – a departure from its earlier methods.
The BSP has not only got an audio-visual campaign stitched up to tell voters how Mayawati is a harbinger of social change but to remind them of the better law and order in 2007-12 when she was the Chief Minister.
Unlike in the past when the party heavily relied on corner meetings and low profile rallies in rural constituencies, this time it has roped in the likes of Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor to seek support.
The BSP has never been known to woo the media. This time, the party mandarins are not only in touch with journalists but are sending regular press releases in PDF format using WhatsApp, SMS and emails.
The party is also extensively using the social media network, something Mayawati had ridiculed not so long ago.
Candidates have been told to create Facebook pages and twitter handles and keep the ‘tech savvy’ and youths hooked on to the BSP.
The strategists are sending live feeds of speeches of ‘Behenji’. The speeches of the four-time Chief Minister are also posted on Youtube in the new ‘avatar’ of the party.
A party leader said much credit for these changes goes to Rajya Sabha member and Mayawati’s close aide Satish Chandra Mishra, who has been able to get the Dalit leader to embrace all possible avenues to reach out to voters.
Dozens of new age candidates — Paresh Mishra, Afzaal Siddiqui and even retired IPS official like Gurbachan Lal — have their own teams for social networking.
They also keep track of their opponents and devise ways to beat them using technology.
The BSP does not have any official Facebook or Twitter presence and depends on its supporters to expand its base and promote its ideology.
Mayawati has ruled Uttar Pradesh twice with BJP’s legislative support and once in alliance with the Samajwadi Party.
While her three terms were brief and full of upheaval, she had a full five-year term in 2007-12 until the SP stormed to power, led by the young Akhilesh Yadav. The BSP drew a duck in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014.
Determined to return to power, Mayawati is leaving nothing to chance now. This explains the BSP’s new slogans, jingles, TV spots and social media reach out.
Whether the BSP’s new love for technology will fetch her the desired results or not will be known only on March 11 when votes polled in Uttar Pradesh will be counted.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)