Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Sunday stayed away from her party’s rally in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra. While the party leadership in Himachal Pradesh claimed that she got ‘unwell’ and her plan was ‘cancelled at the last moment due to health issues’, sources confirmed that empty chairs and thin gathering were the reasons for her tour getting cancelled.
The local unit of BSP had made all the arrangements for Mayawati’s rally at the Nagar Palika ground of Kangra and a grand stage was setup at the venue waiting for her arrival. However, at the last moment party members were told that Mayawati is going to skip the rally and the party’s national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra will address the gathering.
Meanwhile, at the rally venue, majority of the chairs were empty even during Mishra’s address as crowds failed to turn up. Sources further said that party workers made for the majority of crowd in the rally while the number of common people remained miniscule.
Speaking to The Indian Express, ML Tomar, BSP’s Himachal Pradesh affairs incharge and rally incharge claimed that ‘Mayawati got unwell’ and thus could not make it to the rally.
“Behenji got unwell at the last moment. So party’s another senior leader Satish Chandra Mishra ji addressed the rally. He appealed to the people to free Himachal from rule of Congress and BJP and vote for BSP as it is the only third option in the state,” claimed Tomar. Tomar also claimed that he received no prior information about Mayawati’s tour getting cancelled. “Mishra ji only informed me after his arrival that behenji is not coming. We were ready for her welcome and stage was set for her address,” he said. He also claimed, “At least 8,000 persons attended the rally today.”
Notably, during assembly polls 2012, Mayawati had addressed rallies at Kangra and Una in Himachal Pradesh and the party had managed 1.22 per cent votes only despite fielding candidates on all 68 seats. This time BSP is contesting from 42 seats, 26 less than the 2012 polls and claims that it has adopted ‘selective’ approach to focus on only those seats where it has ‘good supporters base’ including the maximum 16 in Kangra.
Meanwhile, the workers were disappointed and agitated after this last minute fiasco. One of the workers who had reached Himachal Pradesh from Punjab said, “We were camping there since two weeks and doing all preparations. We installed party flags, posters village to village and tried gathering crowd. It was really disappointing.”