BAHUJAN SAMAJ Party (BSP) chief Mayawati will address a rally in Kangra of Himachal Pradesh on November 5 to campaign for party candidates. However, this time the party is not contesting all 68 seats in the state, which goes to the polls on November 9. The BSP has fielded its candidates on 42 seats only – 26 seats lesser than 2012 HP elections. Nearly 25 per cent of the hill state’s population belongs to Scheduled Caste category (SC).
In 2012, BSP had managed only 1.22 per cent vote share in HP compared to 4.98 per cent votes secured by CPM, 2.18 per cent by CPI and 1.97 per cent by NCP, apart from Congress (43.21 per cent) and BJP (38.83 per cent). After the Congress and BJP, which have been the traditional rivals in Himachal Pradesh in the two-party system, BSP is the only other party that has fielded as many as 42 candidates. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has failed to set up base in the hill state and thus there is no heavyweight ‘third front’ candidate this time, too.
Speaking to The Indian Express, M L Tomar, party affairs in-charge for Himachal Pradesh, said Mayawati would address a rally at Nagarpalika ground of Kangra on November 5. “This time, we have decided to contest on limited and selective seats. We have fielded our candidates only on those seats where we have a support base and a chance to leave a mark. Last time, we had fielded candidates on all 68 seats but this time we are contesting 42 seats. Behenji (Mayawati) will campaign for our candidates on November 5 at a rally in Kangra,” said Tomar.
Asked about the reason behind the party’s decision to contest ‘selective’ seats, Tomar said, “The aim this year is not only to increase vote share of BSP in Himachal… We are also aiming at winning at least five seats. So to limit our focus on winnable seats, we decided to leave some,” said Tomar.
BSP has fielded maximum (16) candidates from constituencies in Kangra district. Apart from Kangra, some have also been fielded from Hamirpur, Simla and Mandi. In the rally on November 5 at Kangra, the party is targeting gathering of at least 10,000 persons. “We are targeting at least 10,000 persons in the rally on November 5. There is no confirmation yet on which other leaders will attend,” said Tomar who was in Kangra Friday to oversee the rally preparations.
The party also did not announce the candidates list officially this time and kept it a low-key affair. Asked why, Tomar said, “We are only contesting where we feel our grounding is strong. So, we avoided making candidate announcement a big event. However, we did announce tickets officially after approval from behenji (Mayawati).”