The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Friday declared the names of its two nominees for the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for next month. Of its six Upper House members who are retiring, BSP will repeat only one —- Satish Chandra Mishra. This will be Mishra’s third consecutive term in the Upper House. The other nominee is Ashok Kumar Siddharth who has emerged as one of the most influential party coordinators in last two years.
The decision was taken by party supremo Mayawati in a meeting with party MLAs and senior leaders in Delhi.
Siddharth, a Dalit from Farrukhabad, is known as a “soft-spoken and humble” organisation man. As a health department employee of state government, he had been an office-bearer of BAMCEF, the “shadow organisation” of government employees who support the BSP.
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He left his job in 2007 after the formation of Mayawati government and worked as a party coordinator in Kanpur. Siddharth was elected as a member of UP Legislative Council in 2009. For nearly half-a-decade, he has remained the in-charge of southern states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for BSP.
As Mayawati reshuffled the party functionaries after the BSP’s Lok Sabha debacle in 2014, Siddharth was appointed as a coordinator of Lucknow and Kanpur division. This was in September. A few months later, he was given the responsibility of Aligarh division. And most recently, he was made the in-charge for Bundelkhand after Mayawati stripped former MLC Tilak Chandra Ahirwar of the responsibility.
At 46, Siddharth will be the youngest among the BSP members in Rajya Sabha. Known as a proficient orator at the BSP workers’ cadre camps, Siddharth is one of the few Dalit leaders of the party who can speak in English.
Meanwhile, BSP also announced the names of Athar Singh Rao of Meerut, Dinesh Chandra of Sultanpur and Suresh Kashyap of Ghaziabad for three seats of Legislative Council. While Chandra and Rao are Dalits, Kashyap is an OBC.
Kashyap is being seen as a new face for the Dhimar-Mallah caste in Western UP after Mayawati sacked Rajya Sabha member Narendra Kashyap, also from Ghaziabad, who is in jail as an accused in his daughter-in-law’s “dowry-death”.
Dinesh Chandra is a party coordinator in eastern UP’s Devipatan, Faizabad, Basti, Azamgarh and Gorakhpur divisions.
Considering its strength in the Assembly, BSP can win only two seats on its own. For the third candidate, it will need support from other party MLAs. BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar said the party will win three seats as it had in 2015 when Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal MLAs had voted in BSP’s favour.
In a statement, Mayawati, who held a review meeting of party organisation in Western UP in Delhi, said her choices for the Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha membership are “dedicated long-time party workers and not any businessmen or rich persons like those nominated by Congress, BJP and Samajwadi Party”.
She said she will hold another review meeting next month to check the party’s organisation work in central and east UP and assess the hard work of possible candidates.
Mayawati said the sitting MLAs will be again made party candidates in the next year’s elections, and said they need to work harder because not much time is left for the elections.
She claimed there is an atmosphere in favour of BSP in UP and said that SP has been so laggard on the front of law and order and development that its leaders will not be able to gather courage to go out and seek votes.