The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has welcomed the offer of the newly-elected Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Captain Amarinder Singh to join the Congress led grand alliance against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but has attached the rider of ‘sincerity’.
“We welcome this offer only if there is sincerity in it and there is a respect for the BSP in the mind of the PPCC chief. However, till now this offer has remained confined to only in newspapers and in the past as well, the Congress as well as the Badals have been giving such statements to confuse the BSP cadre,” said Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state president of the BSP, while talking to HT.
The BSP chief, however, claimed that the party had made all preparations to fight the next electoral battle of Punjab alone and the party has even started declaring its candidates.
“Any decision to join an alliance with the Congress will be taken by party supremo Kumari Mayawati after soliciting a ground-level report from workers,” said the BSP chief.
Response from the grass roots
At the grass-roots level, BSP leaders have expressed interest in Amarinder’s proposal, claiming that it was high time that the BSP joined hands with the party that they feel had a chance to form the government.
“To ensure that our members do not jump parties, the BSP must join the grand alliance. Our worker and leaders also want the taste of power and it would help us in strengthening our base,” said a senior BSP leader who had fought the 2012 assembly poll on party ticket, but lost. There is another section of leaders in the BSP, who are considered close to the SAD and are not in favour of joining the grand alliance.
In the Doaba region, the SAD is generally seen to have banked upon the BSP to dent the Congress’s traditional vote bank of Dalits and ultimately register a win.
“Becoming a shield to the SAD in the assembly polls has cost us very dear. Some of our candidates resent the fact that during the elections we play as the B-team of the Akalis and our candidates end up ensuring the victory of their candidates,” claimed a senior leader, on the condition of anonymity.
Some leaders also claim that the perception that the BSP supports the Akalis has led to a declining vote share for the party in the Lok Sabha as well.
Many Congress leaders are of the opinion that if the party was able to bring the BSP in the grand alliance, the combination could actually be able to defeat the SAD-BJP combination.
Some party insiders also claim that this could also be a strong counter to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).