Punjab remains the home state of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ideologue, the late Babu Kanshi Ram, but the party’s electoral fate here seems to be sealed.
This despite the fact that Punjab has a 29% scheduled caste population, highest among all states.
It is quite a contrast from Uttar Pradesh where Dalit power propelled the Mayawati-led party to power.
Though most BSP candidates had to forfeit their security deposit in the 2007 Punjab assembly elections when the party drew a blank, it has still decided to go it alone in all 117 constituencies in the January 30 state assembly polls.
Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party rejected an offer of the Left-PPP-led Sanjha Morcha for an alliance in Punjab.
Though the BSP’s state unit leadership was reportedly keen on an alliance to save the split of the non-Akali vote bank between the Congress, Sanjha Morcha and the BSP,
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati’s message was clear from day one — the BSP would contest the Punjab elections without any alliance, and concentrate on consolidating its own vote bank.
The party state unit went into silent mode, not reacting to media queries about the morcha’s alliance offer in September.
“The BSP is not having alliance in any state as our party is not only for political gains but for overall socio-economic change, which we will attain on our own strength,” said Punjab BSP unit chief and Rajya Sabha member from UP Avtar Singh Karimpuri.
The only BSP heavyweight who has any chance of getting elected is former MP Mohan Singh Phalianwala who is contesting from Fazilka.
He got elected along with two other BSP leaders — Kanshi Ram and Harbhajan Lakha — in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections when the party had an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
After a decade and a half, the BSP has a target to achieve—increase its vote share that declined to 4.13% in 2007 assembly polls from 5.69% in 2002 and 6.37% in the 1997 assembly elections.
In 1992, the BSP won nine assembly seats with the SAD boycotting the elections. But the party drew blank in the previous three assembly polls in absence of any alliance.
BSP candidates are putting on a brave front this time.
“The BSP will gain in absence of an alliance, as our target is to consolidate our vote bank,” said the party’s Punjab unit in-charge Narendra Kashyap.