BEFORE SHE devotes herself to campaigning for the seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati is likely to visit Punjab — the native state of party founder and her mentor Kanshi Ram. With the party contesting all the 117 Assembly seats in Punjab, where polls will be held on February 4, the state BSP unit has requested Mayawati to address six rallies.
The party has chosen its candidates for most of the 117 constituencies in Punjab. Many of them have already started filing their nomination papers.
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“We are working quietly. Our campaign is going on. We will celebrate the birthday of Behenji in every Assembly constituency on Sunday. We have submitted our proposal to her about holding rallies in Punjab. She is expected to announce her schedule soon,” said BSP’s Punjab in-charge and former UP MLC Meghraj.
While Punjab was considered one of the most fertile states for BSP because of its huge Dalit population, the party has not been able to make a place for itself in the state and has been loosing support in the last few elections. With Aam Aadmi Party working hard to woo Dalits — the BSP votebank — the party faces a tough challenge of stopping its vote share from sliding further.
Meghraj, however, dismissed AAP, saying Dalits remain committed to the BSP. “AAP will only damage the Congress and Akali Dal.
Arvind Kejriwal has been making controversial statements here. He is opposed to caste-based reservations. He said he will make a Dalit the deputy chief minister. This is very offending to Dalits who are 30 to 35 per cent in the state. Can a member of the Dalit community not become the chief minister? We are saying that we will make a Dalit chief minister. Our campaign — ‘chalo chalein sarkar banayein, hathi wala button dabayein’ — has been receiving great response,” he said.
With Mayawati clarifying that BSP will not go for an alliance or understanding with any party in Punjab and Uttarakhand, leaders are working to stop any damage to the party’s support base in these two states.
In Uttarakhand, where BSP enjoys has second largest vote share after UP, the party is contesting all 70 seats. As polls in Uttarakhand are scheduled to be held on February 15, Mayawati is likely to visit Uttarakhand early in next month. “We have not yet received her schedule. But we have planned two rallies of her — in Garhwal and Kumaon divisions,” said state BSP president Nathu Singh.
The BSP remains a strong contender in Haridwar where Mayawati had contested a bypoll in 1987 during the early days in politics. In 2012, the BSP had won three Assembly seats in the district — Bhagwanpur, Jhabrera and Manglore. In last year’s zila panchayat elections too, party-supported candidates had performed well. BSP general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui, the party in-charge of west UP, is the party in-charge of Uttarakhand.