The BSP’s decision to stay away from the civic elections has caused ripples in the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state. The SP, which has been struggling to evolve a consensus over the selection of the candidates, especially for mayoral elections in 11 municipal corporations, has also started chalking out a strategy to stop the migration of BSP votes to rivals and especially the Congress. The BSP votes have all the potential to upset the SP’s applecart in urban areas.
In the run-up to assembly elections, the civic polls have become quite prestigious for the SP. During the last three years the party had made hectic efforts to widen its base in urban areas. The civic election, which would be fought on party symbol, would thus indicate the party’s grip over its new constituency. While the BSP continues to be largely a rural-based party, it has a committed vote bank in urban areas also. Before the withdrawal announcement there were a large number of BSP ticket-seekers.
While the decision of BSP chief Mayawati to stay away from the local bodies election and concentrate on the bigger fight had shocked the party cadre, the SP strategists were wondering about the migration of its vote bank. There is a feeling in the SP that any leverage to the Congress because of BSP’s withdrawal from the fray may send wrong message to the people in the Assembly elections.
This vote has become quite significant for the SP. “We will try to win over local workers”, commented a senior SP leader. The possibility of fielding BSP workers as independents to fragment the vote bank could also be not ruled out.
However, the BSP coordinators have been instructed to keep a vigil on local leaders.
The long queue for SP tickets for chairmanship in local bodies has also created a piquant situation for the leadership. Samajwadi Party general secretary and PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav has been authorised to finalise the candidates’ list.
While the party wants unity among the local leaders over the selection process, the possibility appears to be farfetched because of massive infighting at the district level as they are making desperate efforts to ensure tickets to their relatives.
“The SP headquarters is flooded with such applications”, the SP leader pointed out.