The April 23 Delhi municipal election is set to see an unprecedented six-cornered contest as Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to throw its hat in the ring, despite the severe drubbing it received in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
The party has announced 70 candidates already, and will fight BJP, AAP, Congress and Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj India all 272 municipal wards of the city-state. Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) will contest at least 150 seats.
In the last municipal elections, only BJP, BSP and Congress had contested on all the seats and Samajwadi Party was the next big party in terms of candidates with 107 candidates in fray. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Uddhav Thakrey’s Shiv Sena had contested on 23, 21 and 16 seats respectively. Other parties like, Lok Jan Shakti Party, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, Nationalist Congress Party, and Communist Party of India had also contested on less than 100 seats.
“Whatever may have happened in the UP elections, in Delhi, we will contest with full strength,” BSP’s Delhi president, C P Singh said.
The party used to be a key player in the capital and was the third major contender after BJP and Congress, albeit a small one. It had won 15 seats in the previous municipal elections in 2012 with over 10% vote-share.
A party leader also highlighted that Muslim-dominated areas and outer Delhi used to be its stronghold.
In the 2008 assembly election, BSP had won Badarpur and Gokalpur seats, and came second in Narela, Badli, Deoli, Tughlakabad and Babarpur seats. The party also got 10,000–30,000 votes in 40 other seats.
But all that was before Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party entered the arena in 2013.
From 14.05% in 2008, BSP’s vote share dipped to 5.35% in 2013 assembly polls and further to 1.3 % in the 2015 assembly election. They did not win even a seat both the times.
“In the last assembly election, voters gave a chance to AAP, but they are now tired of all the three parties—BJP, Congress and AAP,” CP Singh reasoned. “We will give them an alternative.”
However, the BSP leader who wished anonymity admitted that party’s chances were slim, having fared poorly in the last few elections.
Moreover, in the recently-concluded UP hustings, BSP could manage only 19 seats, its worst since 1991.
And whether Mayawati will campaign or not is not decided yet.
“To make an impact in municipal election, party needs a magic since the UP drubbing is fresh in memory,” the BSP leader said.