The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday announced the first list of 50 candidates for the assembly polls ahead of the Congress and the BJP. It is likely to announce candidates on the remaining 20 seats in next two days, party sources said. The state goes to polls on February 15.
Candidates in most of the seats in the three major districts of Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar (USN) and Dehradun, which account for 30 seats, were announced. In a few other districts, like Rudraprayag and Chamoli, the party has announced candidates in some seats. In Nainital district, the BSP has finalised all seats barring Nainital city.
On December 14, the party had unofficially announced names of Ram Suhag Singh from Roorkee and Bhagmal from Jhabreda in Haridwar district.
According to party sources, the BSP has finalised the candidates with two factors on its mind – to increase its vote share and winning from Haridwar and USN, its two focus areas. In 2007, the party had won two seats from USN, but failed to win any in 2012.
Nonetheless, in the previous (2012) assembly polls, the BSP had emerged the third largest party with 12% vote share, after the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. It won three seats from Haridwar district and went on to become a part of the ruling Congress coalition.
This time the party dropped sitting MLA from Jhabrera seat in Haridwar and fielded a new face from Bhagwanpur that was won by Surendra Rakesh, who later died of cancer.
Interestingly, the first list has a mix of candidates cutting across caste and community lines. The party has fielded nine Muslims, one Sikh, three Brahmins, besides Rajputs and its traditional vote base -- schedule castes and OBCs.
Party’s state in-charge Pradeep Jatav said the BSP believes in giving due representation to every caste. “We are contesting in every part of the state. Party is hopeful of winning most seats in terai (plain areas),” he told HT soon after the list was announced.
This time the party is keeping a close tab on both the Congress and the BJP, which are yet to announce candidates. The party’s strategy is clear – it is expecting hung assembly in the state and eyeing a bigger role in the government.
The BSP had supported the Congress to form the government and also during the floor test, had earlier claimed that it would not support either of the two national parties – Congress and BJP.
(With inputs from Nihi Sharma and MS Nawaz)