The increasing might of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the virtual fall of Republican Party of India (RPI) in its stronghold in Vidarbha, particularly in Nagpur have raised many eyebrows in the region after the local bodies’ elections.
Nagpur has been the citadel of RPI where Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in 1956 but the BSP has dealt a severe blow to their vote bank in the recent elections.
BSP earned 12 seats in the Nagpur Municipal Corporations alone while 6 seats in the neighbouring Amravati municipal corporation and their candidates finished second in 30 wards, giving a threat to the RPI politicians. Moreover, the party got one seat in Akola Municipal Corporation elections.
In Nagpur, it got 10 seats from north and south Nagpur assembly constituencies—predominantly dalit areas which are considered as RPI citadel and dalit voters are the deciding factor for the state elections.
In Akola, where Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grandson Dr Balasaheb Ambedkar has a considerable clout, the party could manage to win only seven seats and the BSP also made its presence felt in the elections.
The BSP also fared well in entire Vidarbha’s Zilla Parishad elections and emerged as the top party for Dalits and backward classes by winning eleven seats while all RPI factions could manage to win only nine seats.
Milind Pakhale, chief of RPI (Ambedkar) in Nagpur, admitted that the traditional RPI factions have lost their credibility among the voters because of their hobnobbing with the ruling class as well as the saffron combine which was cleverly used by the BSP in the region.
“We are assessing the entire issue and would rectify our mistakes. This was lesson for us in our stronghold and we would certainly work to reclaim our share of votes in the next elections,” he said.
Nagpur has been a significant power base of RPI where they ruled the civic body for several years but all the three RPI factions could manage only four seats. RPI (Kawade ) failed to win a single seat while Prakash Ambedkar faction got two while former state Maharashtra minister Sulekha Kumbhare and Ramdas Athavale factions received a seat each.