With a little more than month to go for the assembly elections, the national parties are getting the elections ‘blues’. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, which is in power in the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, is keen on make an impression in the Capital.
And, the Congress has reasons to be concerned as the BSP is painting its bastions blue—the party colour. Take North and West Delhi. The BSP candidates are focusing on slums and unauthorised areas and it seems to be working.
When the party decided on Puran Mal Goel’s a month ago, within weeks, most parts of Shakur Basti got handpumps. He calls it “social service”, but every handpump bears the party symbol: the elephant.
In the west, water tankers ensure 24-hour supply. “Call it an election gimmick, but one cannot ignore the fact that it has helped the people,” said a resident. In areas where water is not an issue, the party is distributing food packets twice a day.
Eastern Delhi is crucial. Of the 70 members in the Delhi assembly, 16 come from these parts. The party is building on the gains it made in the civic polls — it had won 10 of the 17 seats.
Add to it the party’s social engineering formula. It has chosen candidates from influential groups including the dominant Punjabi and Vaish communities. “We’ve named candidates on their win-ability,” general secretary Suraj Mohan Arya said.
That the BSP is replicating its UP formula is obvious. Majority of the candidates in the state were either upper caste Hindus or moneyed Muslims. Elections, a senior party leader who didn’t wish to be named told HT, “can’t be contested without money. The rich must vote for us. Only then will we be a formidable force”.
The mood in the BSP camp is upbeat. They are talking about “springing surprises” and promise what its candidate and former BJP minister Rajendra Kumar Gupta calls “an emergence of a new political force in Delhi”.
Banking on the “persona and grit” of Mayawati, the party will contest all 70 seats. The electorate, however, has a different view: The party has pockets of influence, but “Abhi Dilli door hai…”