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BSP eyes Dalit vote in Congress bastions

BSP office-bearers in Delhi said the party activities might be less conspicuous, but it has organised numerous meetings in east and outer Delhi, where a majority of its Dalits supporters reside.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2003 12:48 IST

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is trying to make inroads into traditional Congress bastions in the Capital.

BSP office-bearers in Delhi said the activities of the party might be less conspicuous, but it has organised numerous meetings in east and outer Delhi, where a majority of its Dalits supporters reside.

Traditionally, Dalits have voted for the Congress in the Capital. However, in the 1998 Assembly elections, the BSP managed to poll three per cent of the vote, though it did not win a seat.

It improved its performance in the 2002 MCD elections, polling six per cent of the votes and winning one seat.

Congress leaders fear that if BSP president Mayawati is arrested before the Assembly elections, it might trigger a ‘sympathy wave’ for the party in the Capital.

Dalits comprise 19 per cent of the total Hindu population of the Capital, i.e. about 16 lakh voters out of a total of 94 lakh voters.

BSP leaders said that the party had coined the slogan, "Indian refugees" to attract migrants from other states. "These people have been uprooted from their home states, but are not getting their due share of political participation in the Capital," said a BSP leader.

The Indian Justice Party, headed by former bureaucrat Udit Raj, has also started campaigning in a big way and hopes to woo Dalits and other minorities from a platform of secularism and equal opportunity.

First Published: Oct 24, 2003 12:48 IST