The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Monday removed its Punjab unit president Rachpal Raju, days after the party, which had been all but written off in state politics, finished third on the three Lok Sabha seats it contested. Raju has been replaced by Jasvir Singh Garhi, who only three days back resigned from the post of the veterinary inspector in the Punjab government.
Garhi is considered close to Randhir Singh Beniwal, the BSP in-charge, Punjab and Chandigarh.
“It is not that Raju was not performing, but Behenji (BSP supremo Mayawati) has made changes in organisational structure across the country with focus on young voters in mind. Garhi is 39 years old. We have plans to focus on youth, hence his appointment,” Beniwal told The Indian Express.
The new organizational structure of the state party unit, which was dissolved after the Lok Sabha election results, will be announced soon.
Garhi, who hails from Garhikanogo village in Balachaur sub-division of Nawanshahr district, was appointed based on the feed back from the the grass root level workers and three Lok Sabha candidates.
Mayawati earlier met the three candidates on May 29. They reportedly her they couldn’t win the respective seats because of a lack of support from the local leaders. Mayawati told the candidates that it meant that state president had failed in his responsibility, sources said.
Garhi, meanwhile, said that he was “honoured that party chose him for the post” and he will make efforts to enhance the BSP base.
He has worked as veterinary inspector for 18 years and remained associated with the India Backward and Minorities Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF).
Under Raju, the BSP increased itys vote share to 3.49 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, nearly double of 1.9 per cent it has garnered in 2014. In 2017 state Assembly polls, BSP had secured 1.5 per cent of the total votes polled.
Raju told The Indian Express that he has given his hundred per cent to the party. He said he respects the party’s decision and “will take up any responsibility that the party offers me.”
The party could not win any of the three seats – Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Anandpur Sahib – but managed to make a dent in Congress vote bank in Hoshiarpur, a fact that even Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accepted.
Beniwal said,”Our vote share in the three seats we contested was 16 per cent. It did better than even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the CPI and the CPM in Punjab.
Beniwal said that in Jalandhar, BSP’s vote share has increased from 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 21 per cent in 2019; in Hoshairpur, from 2.5 per cent to 13 per cent and in Anandpur Sahib from 3 per cent to 15 per cent. “We have improved vote share wise. But a change in the leadership has been done keeping the 2022 Vidhan Sabha polls in mind. Now our focus will be on youth,” Beniwal said.
Though BSP has hinted that its alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh may not hold for the bypolls, it is unlikely to walk out of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA). BSP contested the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab as a partner in PDA that also has CPI, Punjab Ekta Party (PEP), Lok Insaf party (LIP), Nawan Punjab Party (NPP) and The Revolutionary Marxist party of India (RMPI) as allies.
“Our alliance with other parties in Punjab under PDA will continue as before,” Beniwal said.