Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates in Mumbai have one thing in common — all of them are worth over Rs 1 crore.
Dalit leader Maywati’s party has fielded businessman Mohammad Ali in Mumbai South, builder Ebrahim Shaikh in Mumbai North Central, BPO owner Lakhmendra Khurana in Mumbai North, travel operator Atahar Siddhique in Mumbai North West, cricket administrator Pravin Barve in Mumbai South Central and businessman Ashok Singh in Mumbai North East.
The BSP said this was part of their strategy. “It was a deliberate decision to field crorepati candidates as money power dominates elections,” said Vilas Garud, BSP’s state chief. Rich candidates, he said, could take on the might of other parties.
“For years, we fielded poor candidates, but they were steamrolled by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said.
Khurana has clients in the US and UK. Ali, popularly known as ‘king of the docks’ has a transport business, while Shaikh has a host of businesses like construction. Barve is a trustee of the elite Middle Income Group club.
Political analysts said money has indeed become very important. “Elections have become commercialised; it’s virtually impossible for a clean candidate without money to compete seriously,” said Venkatesh Kumar, political scientist at Mumbai University.
The Lok Satta Party, a citizens’-group-turned-political- party, pulled out of the poll fray as it was unable to gather funds.