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As BSP hits the road ahead of Rajasthan polls, it hopes to hold ‘balance of power’

As of now, the party is looking to contest all 200 seats, though it has traditionally performed well in the eastern districts of the state which are closer to Uttar Pradesh.

The party dipped to its worst-ever performance in the recent Uttar Pradesh elections, winning just a single seat. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav/File)

With less than 20 months to go for the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is putting its house in order and aiming to be in a position where it can influence government formation in the event of no party getting a clear majority.

Mayawati’s brother and BSP’s national vice president Anand Kumar, his son and party national coordinator Akash Anand, and party’s Rajya Sabha MP Ramji Gautam, among others, have visited the state over the past few months with the aim of improving the party’s best ever performance of six MLAs in Rajasthan in the 2008 and 2018 elections.

BSP state president Bhagwan Singh Baba said the reconstitution of district and Vidhan Sabha committees, which were dissolved, is currently underway while the state committee led by him has 25 members. Ramji Gautam and Suresh Arya are the joint party in-charge for Rajasthan.

However, the party dipped to its worst-ever performance in the recent Uttar Pradesh elections, winning just a single seat. On whether this will affect its prospects in Rajasthan, Baba said, “We’ve always performed well in Rajasthan. If you look at 2003, we had two MLAs and almost 4 per cent vote share; in 2008 we had six MLAs and about 7.75 per cent vote share; in 2013, we had three MLAs; and in 2018, we again had six MLAs – we didn’t have a government in UP then.”

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However, unfortunately for the BSP, both the times that it won six MLAs in Rajasthan, the legislators left to join the Congress — first in 2009 and then in 2019, at the behest of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

“Whether it was under the influence of money or promise of position, they openly violated the anti-defection law. This time we will try to choose people who believe in the party’s ideology. Behenji has also said that we should choose people who cannot be bought later,” Baba said, adding that with the party’s central leadership “directly involved” in poll preparations, the BSP’s prospects in the state are set to improve.

The aim, this time around, is to be able to influence government formation and ensure that neither of the two big parties gets a clear majority. “Every five years, the BJP and Congress take turns to rule the state. And every time, we emerge as the third power centre. So this time, our attempt will be to be the balance of power, where neither of the two parties win enough seats (to be in majority) and where we get to set the terms,” he said.

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As of now, the party is looking to contest all 200 seats, though it has traditionally performed well in the eastern districts of the state which are closer to Uttar Pradesh. “Our aim is to contest all 200. That’s how we are going ahead, but we will proceed the way Behenji wants us to,” he said.

On the Gehlot government, Baba said, “The government had made several promises to the people but we only keep hearing about rapes and atrocities. Dalits have been suffering in Rajasthan for long, be it under the BJP or Congress.”

First published on: 30-04-2022 at 06:15:29 pm
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