With the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance set to be sealed, the opponents should ideally be jittery and expected to redraw the strategy. Not so with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), or so it claims.
“The SP-Congress alliance will hardly make any impact on BSP fortunes in the assembly elections. The SP is facing anti-incumbency factor whereas Congress has lost its base in UP,” claimed BSP state unit president Ramachal Rajbhar.
More importantly, Rajbhar claims the BSP has an edge over SP and the Congress as they are yet to mobilise the cadre at grass root level.
BSP chief Mayawati, on her part, is relying on her foot soldiers to counter the SP-Congress bid to make inroad into Muslim-Dalit vote bank.
Not only the party has activated its booth committees, vidhan sabha committees and district committees across the state to caution its trusted vote bank against the rival political parties attempt to woo them, the members of booth committees are holding regular meetings in villages and briefing voters on party policies.
A loyal member from the Dalit community has been appointed chairman of the committee that includes members from the upper caste, backward and Muslims.
“The members of the booth committees are on a constant move. During night halts in villages they try to win the support of voters by participating in community meals,” said a senior BSP leader. To strengthen the bond, supporters are urged to donate money for the party and the fund is used in election campaign.
The district and vidhan sabha committees are also organising public contact programmes in respective areas. The booth committees, district committees and vidhan sabha committees are in action since a year organising meetings and motivating voters.
“In 1996, BSP has tied up with Congress but failed to grab power, Congress gained as BSP transferred its vote to Congress but failed to get Congress vote in return. Again Congress will gain at cost of SP,” said Rajbhar.
By the time Mayawati launches her election campaign in the first week of February all the committees will complete the ground work.
Ruling out major change in party’s poll strategy post SP-Congress alliance, a senior BSP leader said, “The party is ahead of its rivals and has already released the list of candidates on 401 assembly seats.”
“We are waiting the release of SP-Congress list and some changes or shuffling of candidates might be made after analysing the SP-Congress and BJP list,” he said while claiming that the BSP has given ticket to 87 Dalits, 97 Muslims, 106 backward castes and 113 upper castes candidates.
To come out of Dalit exclusive party tag, Mayawati has already announced that ‘sarvajan hitay-sarvajan sukhay’ (welfare of all communities) will be the party’s slogan.
The elections are crucial for the BSP as they have suffered defeat in three successive time, 2009 Lok Sabha, 2012 assembly and again in 2014 Lok Sabha election.
In 2007 assembly election, the BSP has polled 30.43% vote and formed government. In 2012, its vote share fell to 25.91% and they could manage victory only on 80 assembly seats.
In 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BSP vote share declined to 19.77%.
“Along with consolidating her support base, BSP chief also faces the daunting task of increasing the vote percentage by gaining support of the castes and communities who have drifted from the party,” said RK Gautam, a political observer.
Sensing the need, the BSP has also made a debut on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and You Tube.