In a campaign that could embarrass the BSP, which is already facing desertions by party leaders after its rout in Lok Sabha polls last year, Mayawati’s one-time cabinet member and expelled leader Daddu Prasad has launched a public campaign to highlight “the practice of selling of tickets” in the party. Prasad, a Dalit, who was rural development minister in Mayawati’s last government, has initiated a series of symposiums and meetings among the community members and other backward classes in Bundelkhand region.
While BSP leaders are dismissive of him, Prasad could dent the image of the party in Bundelkhand, a BSP stronghold because of the large population of Dalits in the region’s seven districts.
The leader, a native of Chitrakoot, who has held meetings in Banda, Lalitpur, Jalaun and Jhansi districts, plans to run similar campaigns outside Bundelkhand, too. His meeting in Jalaun this month even led to clash with the BSP supporters who objected to his criticism of Mayawati. His newly-announced ‘Samajik Parivartan Manch’ consists of people who have either left BSP or have been expelled.
“I don’t tell Dalits and backwards to not vote for BSP. I remind them about Babasaheb Ambedkar’s message to the community about not selling their votes. I tell them that voting for a candidate who has ‘bought’ the ticket after paying crores of rupees is equal to selling your vote,” he said.
Prasad said his main target are youths from the Dalit community. “Mayawati has fixed a bottom ceiling of Rs 1 crore for a party ticket. Then the candidate is expected to spend another one crore rupees in the elections. What can poor people expect from them?” he said.
Prasad said he was also in touch with the people who still feel for Bahujan movement started by party founder Kanshi Ram but are not feeling comfortable in the BSP. “Even I could make a decision to leave BSP only after three years of neglect and expulsion. But I am in touch with such people,” he said, adding that he is not thinking of joining any other political party or starting a new one.