With a view to polarising the non-Jat voters, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is going to try out its successful social-engineering formula again in Haryana.
Party president Mayawati has named former Congress parliamentarian Arvind Sharma its chief ministerial candidate in the election-bound state. Both have stated in the public that the party wanted a non-Jat CM.
Officially, the BSP denies any alliance for the elections but political observers opine that parties with modest vote bank might go for a grand pact to gain in case of a hung assembly.
The Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and Jan Chetna Party have forged an official alliance already and former minister Gopal Kanda has floated the Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP). Three fronts could come with the BSP to challenge the big three, the ruling Congress; the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP); and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
“The four-cornered alliance may try to woo non-Jat voters that make up about 72% of the total in Haryana. It might make a dent in the vote banks of the Congress and the BJP,” said a political analyst.
Party’s history in Haryana
BSP founder late Kanshi Ram had first formed All-India Backward and Minority Employees Federation (BAMCEF) with a presence in Haryana. After the electoral success of his Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DSSSS) in Punjab, he had formed the BSP, which grew into a political force in Uttar Pradesh.
After his death, former UP CM Mayawati tried to break the BSP image of a Dalit-only party by roping in leaders from the upper castes.
The party first ventured in Haryana politics in 1998, when it allied with the Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya), which is now the INLD, in the parliamentary elections. Aman Kumar Nagra of the BSP had defeated BJP veteran Suraj Bhan for the Ambala (reserved) seat by 2,864 votes. After this success, the BSP could not gain any Lok Sabha seat from Haryana. However, its candidate, Bishan Lal Saini, was elected to the assembly from Jagadhari in 2000.
In 2005, BSP candidate Arjan Singh was elected from Chahhrauli in Yamunanagar, and INLD state secretary Akram Khan from Jagadhari in 2009 to become deputy speaker.
Political analysts see the BSP influence among the educated Ravidasia class, which has pan-Haryana presence but voted for it predominantly in Yamunanagar, Haryana’s district bordering Uttar Pradesh.
“The voting pattern shows that the BSP has failed to get all sections of the Scheduled Caste voters behind. The absence of leadership is the only reason. The party gears up only near elections and it sees a new state president that year,” said an observer.
In the 2009 parliamentary elections, it did not win any seat but surged ahead to finish second in vote share in Haryana, trebling its 2004 figure of 4.98% to 15.73%. The gain was seen as a direct impact of the charisma of Mayawati, who was then Uttar Pradesh chief minister, BSP chief, and projection unofficially as prime ministerial candidate.
At a Karnal rally in March 2008, Mayawati had made a pitch to non-Jats by saying that she wanted a CM from the community. It invited support from various factions, and before the 2009 general elections, her party had given shelter to disgruntled leaders from the Congress, the BJP, and different caste segments.
Even the HJC had a brief alliance with the BSP; but they broke up before the 2009 parliamentary contests. Known for her clout in a section of the Scheduled Castes, Mayawati saw her “social engineering” formula succeeding in the state. The party captured votes from the Rors in Karnal, Meo Muslims in Gurgaon, Rajputs in Bhiwani, Sainis in Kurukshetra, Brahmins in Rohtak, and Banias in Hisar, by fielding strong candidates of those castes.
“After the BSP was dethroned in the UP assembly polls and routed in the last parliamentary elections, the influence of Mayawati has decreased. In Haryana also, the BSP secured 4.6% votes, lowest since it started fighting elections Haryana in 2000,” said an observer.