Amid chanting of Vedic mantras and blowing of conch shells by Brahmins, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Monday began its electoral campaign in the poll-bound Haryana to woo the non-Jat voters.
At a well-attended function convened by the party’s chief ministerial candidate and former Congress parliamentarian Arvind Sharma, the BSP leadership announced that the forthcoming elections would be based on the caste factor and the candidates will be fielded on the caste equations of other contestants.
“There are nearly 14% Brahmin and 20% Scheduled Caste (SC) voters in Haryana. Similarly, there is a large number of Gurjars, Sainis, besdies other communities, whereas only a particular caste dominated each sphere in Haryana. Soon the second list of candidates will be announced and names will be carefully chosen to ensure that BSP candidates gain mileage due to the castes of other candidates,” said Rajaram, in-charge of Haryana affairs of the BSP and Rajya Sabha member, amid slogans of “Brahmin shankh (conch) bajayega, haathi (BSP’s electoral symbol) Chandigarh (Haryana capital) jayega.”
Rajaram said he was impressed with the honesty and political acumen of Sharma, who had recently left the Congress and projected as the chief ministerial candidate by BSP president Mayawati.
The former CM of Uttar Pradesh has already announced that Sharma’s candidature was announced to enable a non-Jat leader lead Haryana.
The move is seen as a strategy to grab non-Jat votes from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“It is for the first time in the history of the BSP that a chief ministerial candidate has been announced in advance. We have to work together in a small time to realise the dream of Mayawati,” said Rajaram, a close aide of his party chief.
While clarifying that the BSP would not have any political truck on the forthcoming Haryana elections, he urged the BSP cadre and supporters of Sharma, who have joined the BSP after quitting the Congress, to work together.
Rajaram said the BSP was wrongly painted as the party of Dalits whereas it was a voice for the oppressed and weaker sections of all communities.
In his address, Sharma, who had lost the recent Lok Sabha elections to a BJP candidate, blamed chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for promoting interests of Jats and focused development in his Garhi Sampla-Kiloi assembly constituency.
“During the UPA-2 regime, Jats and other communities were given the benefit of reservation. Par sab janana chahte hain ki Brahmin, Bania aur Rajput logon ne kya bigada tha ke unhe reservation ka fayda nahin diya,” Sharma said.
He accused Hooda of indulging in corrupt practices through real estate and alleged that the Congress regime remained neck-deep in corruption.
“Congress ab kewal dikhawe ki party ban ke reh gayi hai jahan garibon aur Daliton ki koi koi sunvai nahin hoti. During my tenures as Congress MP, I faced rude opposition from Hooda as he hardly had the patience to listen to the genuine issues of common man raised by the elected representatives. I am fully convinced that the BSP is the real voice of all sections of society,” he said.
Reacting to Hooda’s statement made the Sunday’s political rally at Panipat that “malaikhor” leaders were deserting the Congress, Sharma dared the CM to prove that he (Sharma) had taken any undue favour from the government.
He ridiculed Hooda for making announcements at Panipat rally, which were proposed to be implemented after three months.
“Hooda is a liar. The Congress had a few days left from leaving the government and Hooda is misleading people by claiming that he is giving sops. The BSP is on a firm footing and it is capable of forming next government,” he said.
BSP’s Rajya Sabha member Rajpal Singh Saini said the BSP had offered Arvind Sharma to join the BSP ahead of the 2009 elections and that he would be made a CM candidate. “Shayad is Brahmin bhai ne janam patra dekha hoga ke raj ka yog nahin tha us samay. Par ab ki par to pucca kar liya hoga, tabhi aaya hai,” said Saini while assuring full support to garner support from non-Jat votes for Sharma.
‘BSP to empower downtrodden’
BSP’s chief ministerial candidate Arvind Sharma said his government would empower downtrodden members of the society including, Brahmins, Bania and Rajputs. He announced to increase retirement by another five years.
Sharma said he would bring the wages of Haryana government employees, including policemen, on a par with their Punjab counterparts.
He added that he would try to bring a legislation to distribute panchayat land to the landless families. He favoured capital punishment to the convicts of Dalit atrocities.
He referred to the infamous Mirchpur killing case in which a physically-challenged girl and her septuagenarian Dalit father were charred to death by members of the Jat community in which 15 were convicted by the court.
At the BSP’s political function, Arvind Sharma addressed his supporters as “Congress ke saathi”. He laughed at his goof-up but did not make a correction during the address.
Ex-MP from Uttar Pradesh, Malook Nagar, too, goofed up when he twice named late anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela as “National” Mandela.