Punjab, with 30 pc dalit voters is cold to BSP

Assembly Elections 2012: Mayas party unhappy with EC fiat to cover elephants

 For the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Punjab is a paradox. Despite having a Dalit population of over 29 per cent, an electoral victory here has long eluded the BSP.

In fact, the BSP’s performance in this poll-bound state has seen a slump in the last 20 years. The party’s poor show here comes as a surprise, especially as Punjab is the home turf of BSP founder and iconic Dalit leader Kanshi Ram.      

Talking to Deccan Herald, political expert and Chairman of Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communication Pramod Kumar said: “ Concepts like ‘manuwad’ and purity-pollution, which form the basis of BSP’s ideology, do not find a voice in Punjab, especially due to the role of Sikhism and Arya Samaj.”

The BSP’s performance in the last two assembly elections in the state has been dismal, with the party returning empty-handed on both occasions. The electoral debacle continued in the Lok Sabha elections as well, with the party failing to win even a single seat since 2002.

Regional culture

Explaining BSP’s poor show, Kumar opined: “Both Sikhism and Arya Samaj have liberated the Dalits from the stringent purity-pollution concepts. Also, the political and ideological texture of the BSP has been unable to capture the regional, cultural and economic specifications of Punjab.”

Not that the party had a dry run ever since its arrival in Punjab’s political scenario. It had its share of success, but the halcyon days were short-lived, as the party apparently failed to capitalise on the political leverage.

In the 1992 elections, the BSP won nine seats, securing 16 per cent of the votes. The performance was even bettered in the Parliament elections that followed soon after. In 1996, the BSP forged an alliance with the Akali Dal (Badal).

The alliance won three of the four seats it contested in the Lok Sabha elections.
However, after Kanshi Ram’s death, the BSP’s electoral hopes in Punjab perished significantly, possibly due to the absence of a leader of mettle. Its focus has clearly shifted to UP.   The BSP’s poll prospects suffered another setback after the proposed alliance with Manpreet Badal’s Punjab People Party failed to fructify.

However, BSP General Secretary Narinder Kashyap said the party’s support base in Punjab has grown over the years and will be reflected in the ensuing elections.


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