Desperate Times, Desperate Measures? Why Mayawati Reinstated Nephew Akash Anand as Successor

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In the middle of the Lok Sabha elections, BSP chief Mayawati had termed nephew Akash Anand immature and relieved him of the party post. (PTI/File)

BSP supremo Mayawati’s decision could be motivated by the 2027 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, but the bigger question being asked in political circles is whether bringing back Akash Anand will do anything for the morale of the party that has been beaten election to election

It’s more of a political reunion than a familial one. BSP chief Mayawati has reinstated nephew Akash Anand as her successor and the party’s national coordinator nearly two months after she called him “immature” and relieved him of the party post in the middle of Lok Sabha elections. Bringing Anand back to favour, she urged her party leaders to “give him more respect than earlier”.

The BSP supremo’s decision could be motivated by the 2027 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, but the bigger question being asked in political circles is whether bringing back Akash Anand will do anything for the morale of the party that has been beaten election to election.

Mayawati announced her decision during a meeting of the party’s office-bearers in Lucknow on Sunday. The meeting, attended by senior leaders and district-level functionaries, was called to introspect on the BSP’s performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls elections. The party fought the elections solo and failed to secure a single seat.

Why Mayawati Had Dropped Akash Anand

The BSP chief had announced Akash Anand as her “successor” in December last year. She revoked her decision on May 7 this year after the third phase of Lok Sabha elections. The former chief minister had then said that she had taken the decision in the interest of the party and the movement till Anand attained “full maturity”.

Akash Anand was booked in a case of violation of the Model Code of Conduct for allegedly using “objectionable” language in an election rally in Sitapur. He had allegedly referred to the BJP government as “aatankwadiyo ki sarkar (a government of terrorists)”.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures?

The Bahujan Samaj Party has seen a dramatic decline in its political fortunes over the last decade. Since losing power to the Samajwadi Party in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections, where it polled 25.95% votes and won just 80 of the 403 seats, the party’s performance has continued to diminish. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the BSP’s vote share dropped to 22.23% and it won only 19 seats. The decline was steeper in the 2022 elections as it managed just 12.88% of the votes with a humiliating tally of one seat.

Lok Sabha elections have been no better for the BSP. It garnered 24.67% of the votes and 19 of the 80 Lob Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2004 general elections. Its share increased to 27.42% of the votes and 20 seats in 2009. However, the 2014 elections marked a significant downturn, with the BSP’s vote share falling to 19.77% and zero seats. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which the BSP tied up with the Samajwadi Party, brought a brief resurgence for the party when it secured 19.42% of the votes and 10 seats.

With no such alliance in 2024, the results spelt disaster for Mayawati’s party. Aiming to retain the Dalit vote base, Mayawati had fielded 23 OBCs, 20 Muslims, 18 upper castes, 17 Dalits, and one Sikh candidate. Yet, the party’s vote share plummeted to 9.39% and it failed to win even a single seat.

Currently, the BSP has no representation in the Lok Sabha and the UP Legislative Council, and has only one member each in the Rajya Sabha and the UP Legislative Assembly.

The erosion of its Dalit vote base, internal rebellions, and Mayawati’s inability to revitalize the party have raised serious questions about her leadership. The stark contrast between the BSP’s peak in the 2007 UP Assembly elections, when it polled 30.43% of the votes to form a majority government, and its current predicament, underscores the severe challenges the former chief minister faces.

Can Akash Anand Turn Around BSP Fortunes?

Akash Anand is yet to prove his mettle unlike other famous nephews of Indian politics. But bringing him back as her political heir and BSP’s national coordinator does convey the impression that Mayawati is nowhere close to laying down arms.

“Things have changed a lot since the BSP was at its peak in 2007. Not only the political scenario but also the mindset of the voters has changed, especially the mindset of Dalits and a section of Muslims, the BSP’s core vote bank. The continuous fall in BSP’s tally was a clear signal that things were not working properly and the party needed a change,” says Shashikant Pandey, who heads the Department of Political Science at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow.

“Akash Anand took over the party’s campaigning during the multi-state elections in 2023. In a departure from Mayawati’s style of campaigning — she primarily trained guns on the SP and the Congress — Akash consistently slammed the BJP on issues like education, poverty, economy, and law and order. His roadshows differed in style too and this started conveying ‘change’. He started gaining popularity. Anand’s exit had sent another message to the Dalits and Muslims — that Mayawati had succumbed to the ‘BJP pressure’,” Pandey added.

He said Anand’s reappointment will help the BSP shed the tag of being the ‘BJP’s B-team’. “It will help rebuild trust in the core voter base of Jatavs and other Dalits and re-energise the cadre.”

For the 2027 elections, the BSP needs an active leader who zips from one rally to the next roadshow. Akash Anand is that leader, but will it translate to votes? Mayawati’s nephew has three years to prepare.

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