Having already declared 87 candidates for Bihar, the BSP has now announced it will contest all 243 seats on its own. In 2010, it had contested 239 seats and lost its deposit in all but three. In 2005 and 2000, however, it had won four and five seats respectively.
In numerical terms, the BSP has little to boast of in Bihar but it still polls more votes than several other parties and hence, party leaders say, carries the potential of causing a crucial dent. In 2010, it got 3.21 per cent of the votes, more than the CPI, the CPM or the NCP. The Samajwadi Party, which has recently walked out of the Janta Parivar, had got just 0.55 per cent. In 2005, the BSP’s vote share was 4.4 per cent.
Bihar BSP president Bharat Bind knows where the party amid the bigger ones but says that considering the nature of the contest this time, his party will be crucial to government formation. He believes the pair of Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad would not gather much traction as people are tired of seeing the two for 25 years. He felt the state will be pushed towards a hung assembly.
“We might not be able to form the government, but we will certainly be in a position to determine its formation,” he told The Indian Express.
Explaining the rationale of contesting alone, BSP treasurer Ambeth Rajan said: “That’s how we operate. We never align with anyone. We contest on our own.”
Admitting that the party’s performance was poor in 2010, Bind said it is better prepared this time. “My workers have been running a silent movement in villages,” he said, adding the party has given tickets to Muslims, women and other castes.
Significantly, the party’s women candidates had an impressive performance in 2010. In Sheohar, Pratima Devi had polled 32 per cent of the total votes. She was the runner-up and lost to the JD(U) by 1,631 votes.