Bahujan Samaj Party

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Bahujan Party: Some breakaways; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, July 2, 2016

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.




Pankaj Shah, Feb 27, 2017: The Times of India   The sprawling Gulab Bari (Garden of roses) housing the mausoleum of Nawab of Oudh Shuja-ud-Daula, has been one of the main tourist attractions in Faizabad. Centred in the middle of the city, the 18th century structure, however, has another history -it once happened to be one of the many crucibles in the discreet caste laboratory of Dalit leader Kanshi Ram, long before he went on to form the political behemoth called Bahujan Samaj Party .

“It was sometimes in mid1970s. Saheb (Kanshi Ram), who was still in his formative years as a Dalit leader used to call us to Gulab Bari to discuss issues concerning people of the lower caste and how they can be grouped socio-politically to overthrow the might of the existing political dispensation,“ recalled Ram Karan, former banker and associate of Kanshi Ram.

The Dalit amalgamation experiment of Kanshi Ram began on December 6, 1978 and he went on to form a semi-political entity, Backward and Minority Community Employee Federation (BAMCEF). The members of the group, comprising essentially the educated from the lower caste community were turned into a cadre before being sent into Dalit dominated hamlets. “We would meet people of lower castes and tell them about their constitutional rights,“ Ram Karan said.

Exactly three years later, on December 6, 1981, BAMCEF transformed into another organisation called Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sanghasrh Samiti (DS-4). The role of its members remained more or less the same until April 14, 1984 when Kanshi Ram eventually founded the BSP .

The party, however, made its presence felt first time in 1989 assembly elections when it won 13 seats.Though party floundered marginally in 1991, it rose significantly in 1993 when it won 67 seats while contesting in alliance with the Samajwadi Party . It was this year Kanshi Ram's caste lab bore fruit and his party won five out of 10 assembly seats in Faizabad. The five seats were actually in present day Ambedkarnagar which was carved out of Faizabad by then CM Mayawati on September 29, 1995.




Paras Singh & Vibha Sharma , Victory or not, BSP netas keep blue banner aloft for Ambedkar, April 26, 2019: The Times of India

Most Election Watchers Say It Helps Party Stay National

In the blue walled rooms at a two-storey house in Karol Bagh, Bahujan Samaj Party candidates for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi await their turn to discuss campaign strategies with the state committee members. The seven are unlikely to win — no party candidate ever has — but BSP has doggedly contested the Delhi seats in every general election since 2004. What motivates them to take on the daunting odds? If Surendra Kumar, Delhi head of the party, is to be believed, it is simply to keep the Ambedkarite social justice movement alive.

“This year too we have filed nominations from all seven seats. Behenji (party supremo Maywati) will come to address party workers on May 10,” said Kumar with an enthusiasm that masks the disappointment of two of the nominations — in New Delhi and North West constituencies, both with substantial Dalit populations —being rejected on scrutiny.

Debuting with 2.5% of the Lok Sabha votes in 2004, the vote share rose to 5.3% in 2009 before crashing to 1.2% in the Modi wave of 2014. The failure to outdo BJP and Congress, and lately AAP, hasn’t dampened the spirits, especially when BSP has tasted some success in local body elections. It bagged 17 seats in the municipal elections of 2007 and 15 in 2012. “We also won two assembly seats and got a vote share of 14% in 2008,” Kumar added.

Political observers note that participation in Delhi can help BSP retain its tag of being a national party tag. BSP was first designated a national party in 2009 with a national vote share of 6.2% and 21 seats. In 2014 it garnered only 4.2% votes and failed to win a single seat in Parliament. This year, BSP must win 6% of the votes in four states and win at least four Lok Sabha seats to ensure it remains a recognised national party.

Lawyers, businessmen, a sanitation worker and a member of the de-notified Sansi tribe constitute this year’s interesting mix of candidates. Sanjay Gehlot, 49, an MCom and a sanitation workers’ leader, is fighting in East Delhi. “Sheila Dikshit trifurcated MCD in 2012 and adversely impacted the lives of lakhs of Dalits and areas in east Delhi such as Trilokpuri, Khichdipur, Naveen Shahdara and Dharampura. Sanitation and basic services will be our prime concerns,” he said.

In the North East Delhi constituency, Rajveer Singh, a 43-year-old Kshatriya-Thakur, is making his electoral debut. “We have a family relation with Mayawati and she asked me to contest this seat,” claimed the marble businessman with assets of Rs 9.2 crore. Singh noted that party founder Kanshi Ram had fought from this seat, underlining the strong presence of Dalits and Muslim in the area.

Three of the seven candidates are lawyers. Vivek Gautam, campaign manager for another candidate, explained, “Lawyers form a large chunk in the Ambedkarite movement because access to law is the basis of social justice.” Siddhant Gautam, 52, is a one such candidate in South Delhi. He is out to undo the “poor work of the current set of MPs”.

While other parties have dedicated IT cells to create an online presence, Delhi BSP has no such set-up. “We will prominently use recent visuals of our ‘Iron Lady’ for the campaign,” said an unabashed Kumar.



Key desertions hamper recovery

The Times of India, Jul 02 2016

Pankaj Shah  When Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party drew a blank in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, pollsters said a major factor responsible for her debacle was the desertion of her core Dalit vote bank. Two years later, Mayawati has come to face yet another challenge -rebellion from her key party leaders. That too at a time when her party is considered to be on a revival course with a good show in the local bodies and Rajya Sabha elections ahead of the UP assembly polls due in less than a year. While top BSP functionaries refuse to comment, insiders say that the recent rebellion by some of her top leaders -Jugal Kishore, Swami Prasad Maurya and now RK Chaudhary -is bound to send ripples of apprehensions within party cadres who have been silently working on the ground. After all, Maurya was leader of Opposition and still has his sway over pockets in UP . Political experts however insist it is premature to write off the BSP since Mayawati has a history of bouncing back from troubled political waters.

The BSP chief, experts point out, managed to send back a strong positive message to her cadres when her party-supported candidates did well in the 2015 panchayat polls. In June, BSP nominees garnered the highest number of votes in the UP Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha elections, further emboldening her comeback bid. “BSP is known as a factory for producing leaders,“ says Badri Narayan, political expert, professor of social sciences in JNU. “But they're leaders within the party .Once out, they become ordinary functionaries with nowhere to go.“

Observers maintain Maya's calculation of riding back to power rests on consolidating her Dalit vote bank, 21% of the state's population. Of this, roughly 56% are Jatavs, Mayawati's caste. It is this section, about 15% of UP's population, that gives BSP an edge over other parties. But that alone will not ensure a win. She also needs votes from other communities, including Muslims, Most Backward Castes (MBC), Brahmins and Thakurs.

In 2007, Mayawati successfully toyed with the social engineering formula by fielding Brahmin candidates alongside the Dalits.Sources say Mayawati is contemplating a new formula this time -a Dalit-Muslim combination with people from other castes and communities chipping in. In fact, Mayawati has repeatedly been playing the Muslim card -more so in the wake of a surging BJP .

Her calculations, however, got disturbed after the saffron ranks reportedly orchestrated desertion of Dalits from the BSP camp by bracketing them as `Hindu first' in 2014.As Mayawati attempts to consolidate her core vote, the recent rebellion could damage BSP's prospects. She has hit out at the deserters, saying the party's better off without them and hammers home her accusation that SP and BJP are hand in glove. Bluster or strategy? With Mayawati, it's not easy to tell. What is intriguing is that none of the three netas who quit has joined any party yet.


BSP expels leader who lodged case against Bajrangi

Piyush Rai, July 3, 2018: The Times of India

Days after mafia don Munna Bajrangi was gunned down in Baghpat jail, former BSP MLA Lokesh Dikshit, who had lodged an extortion case against Bajrangi, was expelled from the party. Bajrangi was supposed to appear in the case in Baghpat court on July 9.

Satyapal Peplaa, BSP’s zone coordinator for Meeurt-Saharanpur, claimed it was a “disciplinary action” after Dikshit was found to be involved in “anti-party activities”. He refrained from elaborating on the misconduct of Dikshit, claiming the decision was taken by party chief Mayawati.

Dikshit said: “There is only one reason of my expulsion. Extortion culture is still prevailing in the party. I decided not to contribute any further and hence I was shown the door...”

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