For Delhi’s rich who nurture political ambitions Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is slowly turning out to be the party of their choice.
The BSP, which itself is struggling to get a foothold in Delhi, has in two recent elections selected candidates with strong financial backgrounds.
Multi-millionaire businessmen-turned-politicians Deepak Bhardwaj and Karan Singh Tanwar, contesting from West Delhi and South Delhi parliamentary constituencies, respectively, are just two examples.
They caught the eyeballs of many for declaring assets worth hundreds of crore in affidavits filed with their nomination papers. The remaining five candidates of the party in Delhi are no less.
In last assembly elections, 32 of 70 BSP candidates in Delhi's assembly elections were millionaires. Playing its newfound mantra of social engineering, the party gave tickets to representatives of all castes — Brahmins, Vaishyas, Rajputs, Dalits, backward classes and Muslims. But most of them had two things in common. One, they had loads of money to spend lavishly in elections; and two, they were just beginning their political careers.
Party office bearers claim unlike other political parties, the BSP does not give money to its candidates to fight elections. A strong financial background hence becomes a pre-requisite to get a BSP ticket to contest.
But the Lok Sabha polls of 2004 tell a different story. The richest BSP candidate in Delhi in 2004 elections was the one Satya Pal Singh, who contested from Karol bagh parliamentary constituency. He declared assets worth Rs 1.24 crore and was the only BSP candidate with declared assets crossing Rs 10 million. Surjeet Singh Assie, the South Delhi candidate, had a meagre Rs 1.50 lakh to declare.
“The publicity that we got in 2008 assembly elections for fielding two richest candidates definitely gave us a lot of mileage. Delhi's media, which has always been anti-BSP, was forced to talk about us. The attitude of Delhi’s electorate, which always thought that the BSP was the party of minorities, also changed towards us,” said a BSP state leader on condition of anonymity.
Apart from Tanwar, who contested from Chhatarpur assembly segment, Ved Prakash Mann, who contested from Mehrauli on BSP ticket, also declared his assets in hundreds of crores.