NEW DELHI: Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati is working now on a clear Dalit-Muslim consolidation in Uttar Pradesh that will be facing the electorate early next year.

With the reputation of being a fairly able administrator, Mayawati is also a sound political strategist. She plans her campaign carefully, leaving little to chance. She has always avoided media, except at the odd press conferences where she reads out a statement and leaves without taking questions. She is a loner, and has no visible set of advisors. Or at least none that who can claim or credit, or to whom she gives credit.

Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula’s suicide had an impact on the Dalits in UP, many of whom had voted for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. The Una incident in which Dalits were publicly flogged by Gau Rakshaks dented the vote effectively, with the BSP leader moving in to raise both issues in Parliament and on the streets.

Sensing a resurgence for a party Mayawati is now addressing large meetings in Agra, Saharanpur, Azamgarh in a campaign that is now directly addressing itself to not just the Dalits but also the Muslims. This again follows what Lucknow political observers said, “the Gujarat pattern” where a #ChaloUna yatra organised by young leaders saw participation of both communities in large numbers.

The speeches made by Mayawati now are touching directly on issues of Muslim concern. She made it clear that the BSP was for justice in Ayodhya and strongly refuted rumours floated by the rival Samajwadi party that her mentor Kanshi Ram had wanted a public toilet to be built where the Babri Masjid once stood. She said that the Samajwadi party and the Congress were both complicit in the Ayodhya controversy, and had presided over violence after getting the locks opened.

The Muslims are attending her meetings in large numbers. As many in Lucknow confided, “we have not made up our minds yet” but admitted to a gravitational pull towards the BJP that they expect to increase as the elections approach. Mayawati through the campaign till now has succeeded, according to sources on the ground, in building the image of a political leader wedded to the welfare, as she says, of the marginalised sections, and an administrator who will not allow injustice. As she repeatedly points out, she had ensured there were no riots when she was in power as against the almost daily violence reported under the Samajwadi party in UP, and the BJP at the centre.

In Muzaffarnagar, victims of the communal violence in 2014 even today recalled Mayawati’s administrative skills where she had posted Station House Officers at the police stations from different districts. As a old farmer said, “not being from the district they did not indulge in local politics but this has been done away with by the Samajwadi party government since.”

The Congress party is keen on an alliance with the BSP. But Mayawati, according to well placed sources, has not responded to overtures sent out. “She does not seem to be interested at all, but if she does have a pre-poll alliance with us, we will together sweep the elections,” the Congress sources said. But this is not the BSP leaders style, and if her confidence increases as the days progress she will fight the elections on her own leaving it to the final numbers to suggest a post poll alliance, if at all.