Battle for UP: BSP rebels pose problems for BSP
Lucknow: Rebel leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party are posing a major problem for the party in the last two phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh.
BSP president Mayawati has clearly instructed her party cadres to ‘teach the rebels a lesson and ensure their defeat’ but it is easier said than done.
Most of the senior rebel leaders of the BSP are contesting on SP tickets now.
Ambedkar Nagar , which is regarded as a BSP bastion, now has Lalji Varma, Ram Achal Rajbhar and Tribhuvan Dutt — all BSP rebels — contesting elections from the district, known as the birthplace of socialist Ram Manohar Lohia, on a Samajwadi Party (SP) symbol.
Lalji Varma, a Kurmi and five-time MLA, was the BSP’s legislature party leader in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. Ram Achal Rajbhar, also a five-time MLA, is a former BSP state president and a key OBC face in the region. Tribhuvan Dutt is a Dalit, is a former two-time MLA and a former Lok Sabha MP.
The fourth SP candidate, Rakesh Pandey, is the father of sitting BSP MP from Ambedkar Nagar, Ritesh Pandey but he is contesting on a SP ticket.
The defection of these BSP leaders to SP has undoubtedly bolstered the prospects of Samajwadi Party in the district.
The SP hopes to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the BSP in Ambedkar Nagar, where four out of its five candidates are former BSP leaders.
Mayawati, at a recent rally, explained to voters why she had to ‘throw them out’ of the BSP. She accused the rebels of encouraging factionalism in the party.
In 2017, the BSP won three seats in Ambedkar Nagar — Katehari, Akbarpur and Jalalpur.
Another BSP rebel, who joined and quit the BJP, is Swami Prasad Maurya who is contesting the Fazilnagar seat in Kushinagar.
The BSP, and the BJP, are now working overtime to ensure the defeat of Maurya.
Swami Prasad Maurya, has undertaken a door-to-door campaign in the rural areas to rake up issues of caste census, stray cattle menace, lack of health and education facilities and unemployment among voters. He is deliberately avoiding indulging in caste politics.
“I was elected from Padrauna in Kushinagar district in the 2009 bypoll, 2012 and 2017 Assembly elections. The outsider tag (given) by rival parties will be rejected by the people. Along with the traditional support base of the Samajwadi Party, I am getting support from other communities as well. They know that like Padrauna, Fazilnagar will also become a developed constituency,” he says.