BSP shines sans star power

M Karthikeyan

New Delhi, May 6:

Star power may have ensured huge turnouts at election rallies for other parties, but the Dalit-dominated Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has determinedly kept the glamour quotient out of its campaign.

Shorn of greasepaint and hi-tech electioneering, the BSP election campaign has so far been single-handedly steered by its president and self-admitted ‘daughter of the Dalit’, Mayawati, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

A well-attended meeting of her party here this week reinforced her position as the single most powerful leader of BSP.

Mayawati has stuck to conventional methods of campaigning, attending election meetings in a majority of the 435 parliamentary constituencies where BSP contestants are in the fray.

Despite the absence of ailing BSP founder-leader Kanshi Ram, Mayawati has not felt the need for star campaigners to muster support for the party — quite unlike the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, which have roped in film stars and beauty queens to spearhead their respective campaigns.

“Keeping out film stars has not only been a conscious decision for BSP, but is also a matter of belief that there can be no benefit from hiring tired and retired personalities from Bollywood,” BSP leader Sudheer Goyal said.

“Behenji (sister) does not know the art of taking out rath yatras or organising road shows. But she excels in vote shows,” Goyal said, referring to the huge turnout at election meetings attended by Mayawati.

BSP activists are confident that people would vote for the party going by the gutsy image of Mayawati.

“The BSP is not just a party but a vision,” explained Goyal, speaking about a party which arose out of nowhere in the 1980s and has in just two decades become a major political force in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.