By choosing to not contest the upcoming bypolls on 12 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has “eliminated” all chances of “any further electoral setbacks”. The move, which party chief Mayawati insists was taken because “free and fair polls can’t be held under the SP rule”, party insiders admit that opting out has allowed the workers to “focus their energy instead on the next Assembly elections”.
The BSP derives most of the optimism from its “core vote base (Dalits)”, which state president Ram Achal Rajbhar says “will stay with it”, even if staying away from bypolls means giving a leverage to the BJP — the party that has substantially raised its presence in the state.
“There is a possibility of the BJP gaining in our absence. But if we contest the by-elections, we will have to work for another two months and our work towards strengthening the party organisation will suffer. Nothing will change even if we increase our MLAs by three or four (in the state assembly),” Rajbhar told The Indian Express.
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The seats on which bypolls will be held have all been vacated by the BJP and its ally Apna Dal (11 and 1, respectively). A BSP leader, on the condition of anonymity, said fighting on these seats “was going to be an uphill task for our party at a time when we are still rebuilding our organisation”. “It would have been a waste of energy,” the leader added.
The BSP “rebuilding” that its workers speak of began with Mayawati dissolving the party’s entire district and booth-level committees. She soon followed it up by setting up “a new team of coordinators” that has since been overseeing the organisational work. Senior leaders have been instructed to keep a “close watch” on the incidents of law and order failure and “effectively raise them in the assembly”.
The “rebuilding”, leaders say, also has to move towards Western UP, which once used to be its stronghold but has become difficult after the Muzaffarnagar violence. Its objective of stitching a Dalit-Muslim alliance backfired in the LS polls. In recent days, the party is baffled about its approach with BJP taking up issues like removal of a loudspeaker from a Dalits’ temple in Moradabad and the SP wooing Muslims.
But it is not just the SP-led state government that the party is focusing its energy on; it hopes, and expects, that the public perception against the BJP-led central government, too, will change soon.
“We cannot be like BJP and fight over temples and mosques. We can just wait and let some anti-incumbency factor grow against the Narendra Modi government. The common people’s perspective towards the BJP will definitely change in the coming days,” a senior party leader said.