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Cong on guard for vote-splitter Maya

New Delhi, Dec. 23: The Gujarat results have shown Sonia Gandhi a new peril: Mayavati

The Bahujan Samaj Party won none of the 166 seats it contested in the state but deprived the Congress of substantial Dalit, tribal and minority votes in crucial constituencies.

Observers feel that the BSP, by drawing a sizeable number of anti-Modi votes in many seats, contributed to the Congress’s defeat.

The pattern could be repeated in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, where polls are due next year and where Mayavati wants to try social engineering. The strategy Ś aligning Dalits with upper castes Ś catapulted her to power in Uttar Pradesh this May.

The Congress wants to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor against the BJP regimes in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. But its plans are threatened by the BSP’s attempts to cobble together an alliance of Dalits, tribals, Brahmins and Muslims.

In Gujarat, the first state where the Uttar Pradesh-style social engineering was experimented with, the BSP garnered 9 per cent of the votes, an increase from its 2002 tally of just over 1 per cent. The gains in share didn’t translate into seats but it came at the Congress’s expense.

The BSP’s Gujarat co-ordinator, Rampal Singh, said the party got more than 10,000 votes in over 70 seats. The districts where the party performed relatively well are Banaskantha, Junagad, Kutch, Vadodara, Dahod and Anand.

Mayavati’s campaign calendar for January, peppered with rallies in Bhopal, Raipur and Jaipur, could leave the Congress worried. In Rajasthan, the BSP is trying to forge an alliance between Jats, Dalits and Muslims. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, it is working to bring Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins together. The groups Mayavati is trying to court are also those the Congress has laboured to win over.

Observers feel that Mayavati’s plans could prove lethal for the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Sources in the BSP said the party had also readied a blueprint for other states, including Maharashtra, where Mayavati was planning to create a Maratha-Dalit-Muslim axis.

Even if the BSP’s social engineering does not work the way it did in Uttar Pradesh, it is bound to hit the Congress, the observers said.

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