'BSP ready to contest all 28 LS seats in Karnataka'

'BSP ready to contest all 28 LS seats in Karnataka'

BSP president and former UP chief minister Mayawati. PTI file photo

The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is gearing up to contest all 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in the event that the party decides not to forge a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S).

“If there’s an alliance, we will contest those seats agreed upon. If there’s no alliance, then we will contest all 28 seats,” BSP leader N Mahesh, a former minister who is the lone party MLA in Karnataka, said. “Behenji will decide,” he added, referring to BSP chief Mayawati.

The BSP had forged a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S) ahead of the Assembly elections earlier this year and won one seat - Kollegal, represented by Mahesh. This pre-poll partnership was seen as a move to split Dalit votes that traditionally go to the Congress.

Mahesh was inducted into Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet and made minister for primary and secondary education. Mahesh, however, resigned as a minister in October last, while continuing to support the JD(S) in its coalition with the Congress.

“We’re already in an alliance with the JD(S). If at all there’s an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, it will be with the JD(S) again. But Behenji will take the final call,” he said.

The party, Mahesh said, had already started the process of shortlisting candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. “We have our state committee meeting on February 2, where our national leaders, Rajya Sabha member Ashok Siddharth and Karnataka in-charge ML Tomar will participate,” Mahesh said.

There are at least seven seats where Mahesh believes the BSP has the potential to win - Chamarajnagar, Mysore, Bidar, Gulbarga, Chikkodi, Raichur and Chikkaballapur. Mahesh himself has decided not to contest the Lok Sabha polls.