Hoping to play disruptor in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest all seven parliamentary seats in the capital.
The JD(U) and Shiv Sena, which fought the MCD elections in 2017, will however not be fielding any candidate this time round, since both are allies of the BJP and hope to instead focus on organisation building in the capital.
BSP’s Delhi unit head C P Singh said the names of candidates will be announced soon. The party has made sanitation worker Sanjay Gehlot, head of the MCD Swachhta Karamchari Union, in charge of East Delhi, and marble trader Rajbir Singh in charge of North East Delhi. Both are also likely to be given tickets.
East civic body workers have staged 10 strikes in the last four years demanding regular payment of salary, cashless medical cards and regularisation of jobs.
While East MCD blames the Delhi government for its financial woes, the AAP-led government puts the onus on the Centre for not bailing out MCDs or giving them enough resources. “I have decided to quit my job and fight elections because other parties do not care about us. Sanitation workers have been biggest the casualty in the vendetta politics of AAP and BJP,” Gehlot said.
While the BSP, which has been contesting in Delhi since 1989, has not been a major game changer in the city, it still has a stronger imprint than other fringe parties. It has never won a parliamentary seat in Delhi, but got two seats in the 2008 assembly polls, and came in second on six seats, with a 14.05% vote share.
In MCD elections, BSP sent 17 councillors in 2007, 15 in 2012 and three in 2017 — from Kondli, Seelampur and Bawana.
There are over 1.4 crore voters in Delhi, of whom around 15% are estimated to be from the Dalit community, considered the BSP’s primary vote bank.
“BSP showed a presence in 2008 but in the past five years, many of their voters have drifted towards AAP. If the party fields some big names who did not get a ticket from AAP, BJP or Congress, then they might damage other parties’ vote share,” Sidharth Mishra, who has authored a book on Delhi politics, said.