BSP offers ticket to ex-chief secy Ratna Prabha

BSP offers ticket to ex-chief secy Ratna Prabha

Ratna Prabha

The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which appears to be on an expansionist mode, has offered a Lok Sabha ticket to former chief secretary K Ratna Prabha in an effort to further strengthen its base among Dalits.

The party is keen on fielding Prabha from Chamarajanagar (reserved for SC), which it considers to be a stronghold. “We have held one round of talks with her. We have even conveyed to her that she is free to choose any other seat where she will be comfortable to contest, including Bidar where she is popular for her official work,” BSP state president N Mahesh said.

Prabha, a Dalit and a native of Andhra Pradesh, became Karnataka’s third woman chief secretary in November 2017. She retired in June 2018. The 1981-batch officer started her career in Bidar.

“I’m still undecided about the BSP’s request. I’ve told them that I need time to think about it,” Prabha told DH. She also clarified that neither the BJP nor the Congress had approached her.

There is concern growing within the Congress that the BSP’s decision to contest all 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka without any alliance could split anti-BJP votes. The BSP could eat into the Congress’ share of Dalit votes.

In the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, the BSP has announced an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, leaving Congress with the same concern there.  

The party is scouting for formidable candidates across all constituencies. “In every constituency, we have a cadre that needs leaders who can take them together. So, we’ll see if BJP leaders who don’t get a ticket in their party can join us. Otherwise, we will field our own workers,” Mahesh said.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the highest vote share the BSP secured was in Chamarajanagar (3.07%).

In the May 2018 Assembly polls, the party secured 3.72% of the
votes polled in the 18 seats it contested.

“Dalit votes may swing in BSP’s favour by 1-2%, which will not pose a big threat to the Congress-JD(S) alliance. But the party wantS to do whatever it can to bolster Mayawati’s chance to become PM,” political scientist Harish Ramaswamy

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge dismissed the BSP as a threat. “If the BSP is truly concerned about protecting the Constitution and the interests of SC/STs, then it should support the Congress,” he said.

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