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After drubbing by BJP, Mayawati seeks to revive BSP fortunes through civic polls

Chastened by yet another poll drubbing, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party will contest the forthcoming civic polls in Uttar Pradesh on its elephant symbol in a first for the party

india Updated: May 10, 2017 19:14 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mayawati,BSP,Uttar Pradesh
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP ) supremo Mayawati is hoping to use the forthcoming civic polls to turn around the party’s fortunes after a string of electoral reverses. (PTI file photo)

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest the forthcoming civic polls in Uttar Pradesh on its elephant symbol, a first for a party which once avoided linking its name to what it apparently considered inconsequential in the bigger scheme of state politics.

The elections for 14 municipal corporations and 900 other local bodies, which have to to be completed by July, will be the first electoral challenge for the BSP after its drubbing in the recent assembly polls.

Former chief minister Mayawati’s party was left with just 19 seats in the 403-member assembly amid a saffron sweep that saw the BJP win an overwhelming mandate in the state and form a majority government under chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Mayawati told a select group of BSP leaders on Tuesday that the party needed to counter the narrative that it has lost control over urban areas and is confined only to certain rural pockets, party sources said.

“We need to show that we are very much present in the ground. This can be proved if we contest municipal polls on party symbol. This will also give us an opportunity to make a self-assessment about our strengths,” she was quoted as saying in the meeting.

Mayawati, 61, who went alone in the assembly polls, has also kept the possibility of an alliance open, but asked her party leaders to first concentrate on regaining ground.

“This will help us get a respectable share in any alliance, if it is formed in the future,” she said during the meeting with BSP zonal coordinators. “We will form an alliance on our strengths.”

In the past, BSP’s put up own candidates or backed others in the civic polls but never used its poll symbol, ostensibly to avoid any loss of face in the case of poor results. Even at the height of her glory, Mayawati judiciously maintained the image of a party in control of the state’s affairs.

However, the latest assembly setback has forced her to rethink her strategies and make a fresh attempt at reconnecting to the people, especially in urban areas.

This was the third successive defeat for the party – it lost power to SP in the 2012 assembly polls and failed to win a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Mayawati, sources said, is unhappy with a section of party leaders who “misguided” her into going for an aggressive Muslim outreach during the assembly election. She is of the view that BSP could have done much better if it had not indulged in such a tactic.

She stripped a close aide Nasimuddin Siddiqui of all important organisation assignment, which will now be held by Rajya Sabha MP Ashok Siddharth, a leader who comes from Mayawati’s caste.

Siddiqui will now be in charge of Madhya Pradesh while Siddharth will look after the party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 10:25 IST