Anticipating early Lok Sabha election, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday announced candidates for four of the total 13 parliamentary constituencies in Punjab.
These candidates are Bhagwan Singh Chauhan from Hoshiarpur (reserve), Ram Kumar Prajapati from Ferozepur, Jarnail Singh Kamboj from Patiala and Sucha Singh Mann from Khadoor Sahib.
Rajya Sabha MP and BSP national general secretary Narinder Kumar Kashyap, while addressing a press conference here, revealed that the aforesaid names were cleared after a high-level meeting with party president Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh and in consultation with district-level leaders of Punjab.
"We have announced the aforesaid names anticipating early Lok Sabha election in the country which otherwise was scheduled to take place in May 2014. The party would announce the candidates for the remaining nine parliamentary seats soon," said Kashyap.
Kashyap made it clear that the BSP would not forge alliance with any political party and would fight election all alone in Punjab.
He said though the four candidates belonged to the scheduled castes and backward castes, his party might consider fielding those from the upper castes as well on the remaining nine seats. "We will continue to experiment with the social engineering in Punjab as well," the BSP leader remarked.
When pointed out that the BSP had not been able to gain a foothold in Punjab even though the state had the highest concentration of Dalit voters (nearly 29%) in the country, Kashyap admitted to "certain weaknesses" in the state leadership.
"We have analysed our shortcomings and know that there was lack of unity among party cadres. We will sort it out this time to register good results," claimed Kashyap.
Kashyap disagreed when told that perception about the BSP in Punjab was not good since it was considered a political outfit that often compromised its position and rather helped candidates from other political parties to win.
It is worth mentioning that Harbhajan Singh Lakha of the BSP had won the LoK sabha seat of Phillaur in 1989 with the support of Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann). In 1996, Lakha again contested from Phillaur along with Mohan Singh Phalianwala from Ferozepur and late party supremo Kashi Ram from Hoshiarpur. The BSP had won three Lok Sabha seats in Punjab at that time.
The BSP's best performance in Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections so far has been in 1992 when it won seven of the total 117 seats. In 1992, the SAD boycotted the poll. In 1997, the BSP won just one Vidhan Sabha seat of Garhshankar.
Thereafter, the BSP's percentage of vote share in Punjab has been on a constant decline and it has not been able to win even a single seat either in general or Vidhan Sabha elections.