Mayawati sounded the poll bugle on Sunday, declaring at a press conference that her party would fight the Lok Sabha elections alone in all states. The Bahujan Samaj Party chief used the 75th birth anniversary of her mentor Kanshi Ram to unveil her campaign.
“Our party is contesting these general elections for the Lok Sabha on all seats alone, on its own strength and has not forged any electoral alliance with any party,” she said in an appeal to voters.
Although Mayawati has been working hard at taking the BSP beyond UP — she has set up party units and addressed rallies across the country — she faces the formidable task of weaning away her Dalit sympathisers from the bipolar politics in most states. The party is ready for the fight, and at the very least, it hopes for a good tally in UP, which will increase its bargaining power in case of a fractured verdict.
The BSP’s appeal covers all sections of society (Sarvajan Samaj) — Dalits, OBCs, minorities and the upper caste poor. It promises government reservations for the upper caste poor and private sector reservation for SC/STs and OBCs. Significantly, the latter was part of the outgoing UPA’s Common Minimum Programme, but could not go beyond remaining a promise.
The party has also decided to project itself as best suited to handle terrorism. “Our borders have been insecure because of past central governments, leading to terrorist strikes in which innocents have been killed. So, people should not allow the Congress and BJP to come to power at any cost,” she said.
The BSP strategy is multi-pronged: try to get the maximum number of seats, and then stay open to a post-poll understanding, if it is able to deliver the top post to Mayawati.