The Bahujan Samaj Party has swung into the election mode with the celebration of party supremo Mayawati’s birthday on 15 January. Apart from gearing up to contest the Assembly polls in West Bengal and Punjab, the BSP is also busy crafting its strategy for the UP

Assembly polls of 2017. BSP, say sources, will focus on non-Yadav Other Backward Classes, apart from Muslims, Brahmins and Dalits. According to a BSP insider, the party will appoint functionaries belonging to all sections — Dalits, Brahmins, Muslims, Kurmis and OBCs — to party posts in all UP districts.

In some areas, more than one post holders will be appointed to accommodate all sections, said the insider.

Mayawati, who turned 60 this week, has turned the party machinery into action mode.

“We have been instructed to hold party meetings every week to appoint district unit chiefs, finalise party coordinators, constituency in-charges, and then finalise possible candidates. More than 200 candidates for the 2017 Assembly elections have already been finalised and they have been told to start work in their areas,” said the insider.

He insisted that the party will first focus on West Bengal (2016). And then it will finalise the strategy for the Punjab polls (2017), seeking to increase its vote share by consolidating the Dalit votes. After this, the party will make public its strategy for the 2017 UP polls.

It is noteworthy here that as part of its strategy, BSP does not allow its functionaries to talk to the media. The website of the party is also updated occasionally, and that too to publish official party announcements only. Senior party leader and Leader of Opposition in the UP Assembly, Swami Prasad Maurya, agreed to speak to The Sunday Guardian and said that recent panchayat election results have heralded in the return of BSP as people’s favourite party. “Candidates supported by BSP workers fared well in almost all districts. It’s a verdict on the performance of the current Samajwadi Party government in the state and Narendra Modi government in the Centre. People have got disenchanted by the misrule of teh SP government on the one hand, and with unfulfilled promises of the Union government on the other.

They are waking up at the right time. We are coming back to power in 2017,” said Maurya, who is confident of a BSP victory in 2017.

He didn’t divulge details about BSP candidates and party functionaries, saying that the party protocol prevents him from doing so.

Some political pundits too think that the political fortunes of the BSP are going to brighten.  Badri Narayan, a noted political writer, said that the recent panchayat elections and desperate measures taken by the SP government to woo Muslims show that BSP is rising in the state.

“The urban middle classes in UP have started perceiving Mayawati’s tenure more favourably compared to the SP’s stint in office. She is credited with having a better grip over law and order in the state. In western UP, a consolidation of Muslim, Dalit and Jat votes in favour of the BSP is now noticeable. A section of Jats are lobbying for an alliance between the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the BSP. All these developments clearly point to a revival of the BSP ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections,” Narayan wrote in one of his recent write-ups on UP politics.

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