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Will BSP use Peace Party as a ladder to retain power in Uttar Pradesh?
As the dates for polling drawing closer in Uttar Pradesh, the political contest is getting..

IS MAYA counting on the Peace Party to help the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) become the largest single party in the Uttar Pradesh elections? The news is out here and it is no secret that the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, is very much in the race for the post of chief minister. The SP, which had been written off after the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), recorded a landslide victory in the 2007 assembly elections, has staged a surprising comeback if the results of TV opinion polls are any indication. But it seems that Maya has a trick or two up her sleeve. Could the Peace Party be this amazing trick? There are several questions that are being asked about the organizational structure and funding of the Peace Party. Who funds it and who benefits from it?  

In the Lucknow by-elections held in 2009 after the BJP MLA Lalji Tandon got himself elected to the Lok Sabha, the Peace Party got only a 1000 votes in a Muslim dominate seat Lucknow (West), which the Congress candidate Shyam Kishore Shukla won. The Peace Party candidate Moinullah surprisingly lost his deposit.

Since then the rise of the Peace Party has been meteoric. So is the Peace Party Maya’s Muslim card? Some political pundits feel here the BSP has financed and fleshed this party to destroy the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in the state. The Peace Party rose to power, says a well known Muslim cleric of Lucknow on the condition of anonymity, when the BSP stopped taking part in the by-elections. So was it the power of BSP cadre and votes that used to boost up the image of this newly formed party? It all remains a mystery to many?

Peace Party, founded in 2008, fielded some 21 candidates in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Though it drew a blank in terms of seats, the party managed to get 4.5% votes, thereby making a serious dent in the vote share of the bigger players. The party, however, made its presence in 2010 Domariyaganj by-election when its candidate Sachidanand finished third while those of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress lost their deposits. What made the defeat worse, perhaps for the SP, was its former leader Amar Singh had supported the Peace Party. In fact, along with film stars Sanjay Dutt and MP Jaya Prada, Amar Singh had participated in a rally organised by the Peace Party in Domariyaganj. The by-poll was seen as a test of the SP's Muslim support base after the party had distance itself from the Jan Kranti Party (Rashtravadi) chief Kalyan Singh.

Then, in the Lakhimpur-Kheri by-poll that followed, Peace Party candidate Shashidhar Shukla stood second, winning 17,989 votes. He was ahead of the Congress and the BJP candidates. Dr Ayub's success appears to have been fueled by his image as an honest and dedicated professional working for the uplift of the underprivileged class. Dr Ayub runs a free clinic for poor in village Badhalganj near Gorakhpur.

The Peace Party may turn out to be a key player if UP gets a fractured verdict. The Party is contesting on 240 assembly seats, leaving the rest to its allies - mainly the Bundelkhand Congress and Apna Dal. The party, had a fortnight, ago entered into an alliance with 12 other small outfits which have their caste-base in their respective areas. Earlier, Ayub had entered into an alliance with Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal in 2010, but the tie-up ended abruptly when Singh joined hands with the Congress.

Dr Ayub claims his party would get equal or more seats than the Congress. He said Muslims feel cheated with the Congress on the issue of minority quota. He said a majority of the Muslims, who form around 19% of the total state's population, will opt for the Peace Party and is confident even the poor and underprivileged class too, would go for electing the Peace Party candidates in many places. But, like other parties, Dr Ayub has also given tickets to some tainted but influential candidates like Akhilesh Singh in Rae Bareli and Jitendra Singh Babloo in Bikapur (Faizabad).

Interestingly, if we take a further look at the vote bank that the Peace Party is banking upon, then there will be no doubt in the minds of those who understand even a little about politics that the Peace Party would also be benefiting the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) indirectly in the elections as its candidates will mainly be eating away the traditional vote bank of Samajwadi Party and the Congress. 

This will help and boost the political prospects of the BJP candidates in the upcoming elections in many constituencies. It seems the BSP leader, Mayawati, is playing her political moves with utmost care and with meticulous planning. Her formula of social engineering which was well received by the electorate in the last assembly elections, and gave her a clear majority in the House, would be interesting to watch again in the elections. Can she make a comeback on the same formula of social engineering by adding Brahmin and some percentage of Muslim votes in her Dalit vote kitty? I think for that we need to watch the moves of Peace Party from close quarters.      

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