BSP In Crisis


Near 150 district level leaders have quit BSP that has hit booth management of party

By Asit Manohar

Battling the void left by departure of several senior leaders in the run up to the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Mayawati-led BSP has gone back to the drawing board to build a second rung of leadership as it prepares for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

Almost 150 leaders had quit the BSP around the assembly polls and several of them are now BJP MLAs, a senior leader who quit the BSP had said recently.

The work for reorganizing the party right from the booth level to the top is going on with the party chief holding meetings on a regular basis; a BSP leader said requesting anonymity.

“The work is going on to bring the second line of leadership from among the cadres, who have been working with dedication since long, and prepare for the general elections early next year,” he said. The party is focusing on tapping the energy and the enthusiasm of the young workers who are associated with the BSP mission and ideology, and are hard-working, he said. “They are being given importance in the set-up. The young leaders are apt in communication in the present day scenario and convey the party message while motivating voters, especially of their own age group,” he said.

Before the last assembly elections, the BSP was hit hard by exodus of its senior leaders. Leaders like Naseemudin Siddiqui, Brijesh Pathak and Swami Prasad Maurya, who had become the party faces, are no longer with the BSP.

While Pathak and Maurya joined the BJP before the elections and are now ministers in the Yogi Adityanath-led government. Siddiqui, who was regarded as the Muslim face of the BSP and once confidant of the party chief, recently joined the Congress.

“Booth committees will be reorganized and members of backward, upper caste and Muslim communities, besides the Dalits, will most likely get adequate representation in the committees…missionary workers will be adjusted in the organization and they will get priority in ticket allocation,” he said.

The BSP chief has also directed the leaders to organize cadre camps across the state for collecting feedback to gauge the mood of the people and gather information about the workers active on the ground. Also, on the cards is the strengthening of the organization in the states which go to polls this year, with Mayawati holding meetings with leaders from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh to review preparations.

She has held a series of meetings with the party’s state units and also visited Karnataka where the BSP has entered into a pre-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (S), which also shows a marked change in the party’s thinking. The party supremo is meeting with the leaders of different state units separately, he said.

After the BSP entered into a pre-poll alliance in Karnataka, the party cadres are keen on knowing about any such plan for the Lok Sabha elections. Especially, in the wake of much talked SP-BSP-Congress ‘Grand Alliance’ in Uttar Pradesh whose pilot project could have been the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-polls. However, the speculation were put to rest when both SP and Congress decided to go on its own and in such tumultuous situation BSP chief decided to keep her cards in regard to the Grand Alliance close to her chest. But the plan, if any, will only be decided at the eleventh hour, he said. “The party chief had made known her views that her party will go into a pre-poll alliance only when the offer made to her is a concrete one as well as honorable. Else, the BSP will go alone and there is no change in it as of now,” the BSP leader said.

But keeping in mind electoral losses, there are chances of such an alliance as the elections draw nearer, since all the major parties are realizing the need for unity to check the saffron march, the BSP leader, considered close to Mayawati after the exit of various second line leaders of the BSP, said.

Speaking on the BSP leadership and the course correction it requires, senior journalist Rambahadur Rai said, “Compared to Samajwadi Party, Mayawati led BSP is in need of electoral success as the regional party has already lost its vote bank to BJP in states like Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka while its Dalit vote bank in Delhi has been eaten up by the newly emerged AAm Aadmi Party.”

Rai went on to add, “Being a regional party Mayawati can’t afford to remain in opposition for long. The party is mainly considered an Uttar Pradesh based party which has some poll base in Hindi heartland. It lost power to SP in 2012 and afterwards, it has been facing poll rout into the hands of BJP. It failed to open its account in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls while in 2017 UP Assembly elections, it could send only 19 MLAs which is not enough to send even a single Rajya Sabha lawmaker. “Even if Mayawati hadn’t resigned from the Rajya Sabha, she couldn’t have made to her next innings in the Council of States as she has only 19 MLAs in UP Assembly which almost half way mark to the number of legislatures required to win one Rajya Sabha seat falling vacant in 2018,” Rai said. HE said that exit of second line leaders of the BSP should be seen as weakening clout of Mayawati and her control over the party. So, it’s better for her to stitch alliance ahead of the next elections and hence ‘Grand Alliance’ in UP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls still can’t be ruled out.