LESS THAN a fortnight before she starts attending public meetings with the aim to revive BSP’s support base, party chief Mayawati has expelled two more Dalit leaders — former MP Ashok Kumar Rawat and his brother Manish Kumar, the party candidate from Misrikh seat in the UP polls earlier this year. While BSP leaders said the duo were suspended on Sunday for “anti-party activities”, Rawat — MP from Misrikh in 2004 and 2009 — claimed that Mayawati had asked him to pay Rs 20 lakh as donation to the party. “My father is bed-ridden. He has cervical spondylosis and also needs a bypass surgery. I had told her that I will not be able to give the money. This is why I think I was expelled from the party after working for 15 years. She must have thought that now I am useless,” said Rawat.
“People are leaving BSP because the demand for money has crossed all limits. Leaders may not say so as long as they are in the party but they are tired of the workings of the leadership. At the party meeting last month, I had asked why no one from BSP had visited the family of a trader who was killed along with his wife and son in Sitapur in June,” he added.
Rawat said he will speak to his supporters before taking a decision to join another party. “Now, I am free and cannot stay without a party,” he said. His uncle Rampal Verma is a BJP MLA from Balamau in Hardoi.
Rawat’s expulsion comes weeks after another Dalit leader, Indrajeet Saroj, left the party and announced that he will join the SP. Saroj and Rawat belong to Pasi caste — the second largest Dalit caste in UP after Jatavs, the traditional BSP supporters. In around six months since the Assembly elections were held, over 12 BSP leaders have either left the party or been expelled.
Mayawati’s public meetings, beginning September 18 in Meerut, are being seen as BSP’s attempt to reclaim its place in state politics, where BJP and SP are currently dominating the political discourse. After resigning from the Rajya Sabha in July, accusing the BJP of not allowing her to speak on the issues of Dalits, Mayawati had announced that the meetings will be held on the 18th of every month.
Rallies held by BSP after UP polls, in which the party managed to win only 19 seats, have not seen much public support. Hardly 500 people were present when Mayawati visited the Kanshi Ram Smarak Sthal on March 15. Moreover, the monthly rallies announced by Mayawati to protest against the “tampering of EVMs” were suspended after just one rally following a tepid response from the public.
BSP functionaries have been working on making the Meerut rally a success. “The party is unaffected by the departure of leaders… there will be a huge gathering at the public meeting,” BSP coordinator Naresh Gautam said.