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Focus shifts to her loyalists

india Updated: Aug 21, 2008 01:02 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh

Amid a raging controversy over who will succeed Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, the focus has shifted to the party’s second-rung leaders who have played significant roles in strengthening it organisationally.

Mayawati had chosen nearly half a dozen trusted lieutenants for organisational work.

The BSP had announced the appointment of a little known party worker Alok Kumar Verma as its national vice president. Mayawati herself was national vice president of the party before taking command of the BSP. Her mentor Kanshi Ram was the national president of the BSP.

The BSP strongly refuted the name of MLC and national vice president Raja Ram as a possible successor.

Political observers said Verma’s elevation was aimed at scuttling media speculation on her successor. Rumours were rife about Mayawati’s successor after she announced at a function on August 9 that she had chosen one without naming the person.

Commenting on Verma’s appointment as vice president, state BSP president and Cabinet Minister Swami Prasad Maurya said changes in the organisation were part of a regular process.

Maurya said, “The national president was well and healthy. The party would get the benefits of her guidance and dynamic leadership for several years. Any assumption about her successor at this moment is a futile and useless exercise.”

On the top of the second line of BSP leaders are five reliable and trusted leaders, including Babu Singh Kushwaha, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Swami Prasad Maurya, K.K. Gautam and Indrajit Saroj.

All of them stood beside Mayawati when she went through troubled times. They also worked dedicatedly to spread the party’s base in the state.

At a time when the BSP is trying to expand its base in other states, second rung leaders are being deputed beyond Uttar Pradesh.

Gandhi Azad has been appointed in-charge of Bihar while Vir Singh is in-charge of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Rajya Sabha MP Ambeth Rajan, a Kanshi Ram loyalist and BSP national treasurer is also a force to reckon with in the party organisation.