A large rally by UP Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the Capital has rung alarm bells in Delhi’s ruling Congress and prompted the state Cabinet on Monday to discuss a fresh political strategy ahead of the Assembly elections.
Congress officials admitted that the rally on Sunday was a success and that they quickly needed to battle the rising influence of the BSP in the poll-bound Capital. The Cabinet met at Chief Minister Dikshit’s residence to analyse the rally’s impact, among other things.
Political sources said that ministers worked out that 75 per cent of those at the rally were from Delhi, while the rest were from neighbouring UP. “If so many were indeed from Delhi, it suggests a widening BSP base in the Capital,” a minister said on condition of anonymity.
“We discussed it informally though we felt that it won't affect our base here,” said Social Welfare Minister Yoganand Shastri. Finance Minister AK Walia seemed unperturbed. “The government’s achievements are there for all to see,” he said.
The BSP managed to get close to 10 per cent votes in civic elections last year, the best-ever show by the BSP in the Capital. Political leaders then suggested that most of these were from the Dalit-Muslim base of the Congress, which ultimately led to the BJP’s ascendancy in the MCD.
Party office-bearers said the growing importance of BSP in the city reminded them of the 1993 Delhi Assembly Elections when the Janata Dal won four seats and affected the fortunes of the Congress in another 26 seats, leading to the BJP’s victory.
“So far, our strength is limited to outsmarting the BJP. It is now clear that our fight has to be on two fronts — BJP and BSP,” said a senior leader.
Interestingly, there is a contradiction in the perception of the elected Congress representatives — MPs and MLAs and the grassroots Congress workers vis a vis the BSP. Elected representatives brush aside the BSP threat, but grassroots workers have conveyed to the party leadership that the threat was “real and alarming”.
“In the new delimitation exercise, 39 of 70 constituencies are in slums, JJ clusters, unauthorised colonies, resettlement colonies, urban villages etc. The BSP had grown here and it’s gain would be a loss for the Congress as we too derive our strength from this segment,” said a Delhi Congress general secretary, who did not want to be named.