Will BSP play the spoiler for Congress?

November 8th, 2008 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyNew Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting the assembly elections from Nov 14 in a big way, with analysts warning that it could seriously undercut the Congress in four northern states.Even political workers from other parties admit that BSP leader Mayawati will be determined to make a mark in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, now that it already controls Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.

With Dalits forming its solid vote bank, the BSP’s election strategy is simple: woo other castes and communities, increase the vote share, and win as many seats as possible.

For now, however, the BSP has only two legislators in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, one in Chhattisgarh and none in Delhi.

But those figures do not tell the whole story. Everyone admits that the party’s appeal is growing - and it is no more confined just to the Dalits.

“Figures of previous elections suggest that the BSP has emerged as a threat to both the Congress and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). But since both the Congress and the BSP share a common support base, the BSP will be a bigger threat to the Congress,” explained Sudha Pai, a political science professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here.

Political pundits feel that even if the BSP does not become a deciding factor in the formation of governments in these election-bound states, the party will play the spoiler for the Congress - thus indirectly determining the electoral outcome in perhaps many constituencies.

Dalits constitute more than 15 percent of the population in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi and 11.6 percent in Chhattisgarh. The BSP has increased its vote share in all four states in recent times.

In Delhi, the BSP now has 17 municipal councillors.

Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao feels that the BSP will have larger stakes in the coming elections.

“After forming the government in Uttar Pradesh, the BSP failed to make an impact in the Karnataka elections. So it will have a larger stake in these assembly elections,” Rao told IANS.

According to Rao, the BSP has a sizeable vote in the four states, and, if it does well, it is bound to cut into Congress votes.

Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy of JNU agreed. “The BSP will play the role of a spoiler for the Congress,” he said.

Congress leaders however seem to be unperturbed.

“Historically the BSP has been famous for its politics of disruption. People now don’t want the kind of politics the BSP plays. People want a change in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the change can only be brought by the Congress,” said party spokesperson Manish Tewari.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Prakash Jaiswal added: “The BSP is an opportunist party and the electorate realises this. Voters want a secular and committed party in power, not an opportunist one.”

The BSP is of course very hopeful — and confident.

Said party leader Shahid Siddiqui: “The BSP is one of the fastest growing political forces in the country. We are not cutting into anyone’s base. It is the policies of the BSP that have attracted every section of the society. Our party will change the political scenario of India after these assembly elections and the Lok Sabha elections in 2009.”

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