The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has all reasons to stand tall for winning clear majority in UP assembly in 2007. It was for the first time that any party in the state was voted to power with absolute majority since 1991 when BJP formed its government on its own and Kalyan Singh became Chief Minister. Given uncertainty dominating the state politics for over one and a half decade, Mayawati led BSP’s victory in 2007 assembly elections bears a great significance. But now in 2012, there are several challenges being faced by the party like- anti incumbency, charges of corruption, a major reshuffle in ticket distribution and subsequent displeasure of party candidates, lacunas setting in BSP’s most trusted formula of social engineering, opposition parties making inroads in Dalit vote bank of the ruling party, newly aroused love for Congress among Muslims after quota promise for minorities and sharp decline in zeal of party workers.

Impact of large scale reshuffle in ticket distribution

In a bid to counter the possible anti-incumbency factor and to present a clean image of the party, BSP leadership changed candidates in over 100 constituencies and chucked out over two and a half dozen ministers. Such a large scale change ahead of election has puzzled the party workers in many constituencies. Political pundits believe that allowing ministers and MLAs to continue to indulge in acts of corruption for a little less than five years and taking punitive actions against them in run up to elections is not going to yield the desired result. They also opine that such steps by the party leadership is going to trouble the party on two fronts- firstly, the attack from opposition camp is going to intensify and secondly, the decisions are also going to trigger a widespread discontent within the party organization which is bound to disturb the poll prospects of the party. Displeasure of party workers has become apparent in many constituencies.

Allegations of scams and misrule

Scams like- bungling of funds meant for National Rural Health Mission (NHRM), irregularities in MNREGA, mining scam, Noida land acquisition controversy, excise scam and irregularities in purchase of electricity are the issues with are bound to trouble the party candidates during electioneering. Allegation of misgovernance during last five years is another serious problem being faced by the party candidates in their bids to woo voters.
Chief Minister Mayawati is also being accused by opposition parties of not allowing democracy in the affairs of the party and government which has supposedly added to the woes of the people of Uttar Pradesh. It is said that the BSP government failed to develop a mechanism to allow the people to carry forward their grievances to the Chief Minister and other senior ministers.

Threat from new elite class in BSP

The new class of elites within the party is threatening the very foundation of the party. It is a common perception among the party cadres that during five years of party rule, the financial backwardness of party workers have continued to exist but party leaders have become rich. The widening gap between the financial status of party workers and the party leaders has badly affected the morale of the party workers.  This is the reason why the party workers are not as much enthused this time as they were in 2007.
Lacunas in Social engineering formula

Party’s formula to associate other casts and communities to its Dalit vote bank through Bhaichara committees (Brotherhood committees) is fast becoming ineffective. Party leadership’s special attention to satisfy political ambitions of the Brahmin communities has caused displeasure among Rajpusts and similarly its initiatives to woo most backward communities has annoyed other backward casts. Recent announcement by the union cabinet to allot 4.5 percent sub-quota for minorities within 27 percent quota for minorities has turned the opining of UP Muslims in favour of Congress which is another concerning factor for BSP leadership.

Opposition parties making inroads in BSP vote bank

Opposition parties making inroads in the traditional vote bank of BSP has frowned party leadership. Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s frequent visit to Dalit families and bids by SP and BJP to attract Dalits in their fold is another disturbing factor for BSP poll strategists. To woo Dalits, Congress has fielded many Dalit candidates from the non-reserved constituencies. BJP and SP have also played the similar cast cards to shine their poll-prospects. Atrocities on Dalits, especially the rise in the incidents of rape on Dalit women and minor Dalit girls during last five years has tarnished the image of BSP as a pro-Dalit party.