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|November 4, 1998||
A time of reckoning for the BSP
The sailing may not be smooth for the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has emerged as the third major political force in Madhya Pradesh after the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Though there were indications about a Congress-BSP alliance, both parties have not yet arrived at any formal understanding and are now talking about a 'strategic alliance'.
Having made a dent in the 1980s in both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the BSP stood and fought for the rights of the socially backward and exploited people. But the party may have to face a keen contest this time to maintain its position.
Despite being a party of the scheduled castes, in the 1993 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, all but two of the 11 seats the BSP won were unreserved.
This time, party chief Kanshi Ram initiated his election tours well in advance, in September. But the poor attendance at the state-level rally dampened his spirits and he chided party politicians for the poor show.
The BSP made its maiden foray in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections in 1990, winning two seats and polling 3.55 per cent of the votes. But barring those two, the rest of the party's 187 candidates even lost their security deposits.
In 1993, the BSP consolidated its position and increased its seats from two to 11 and votes from 3.55 to 7.023 per cent. But again the other 276 candidates of the party forfeited their deposits.
Significantly, of the 11 seats won by the party, 10 were in the region bordering Uttar Pradesh, where the party had already made inroads. The lone seat won by the party outside that region was in Chhattisgarh, Pamgarh, by state president Dauram Ratnakar.
The 1996 Lok Sabha election saw the BSP further improve its strength in the state. The party ranked first in 15 assembly segments, second in 38, and third in 85.
But its standing changed to first in six segments, second in 23, and third in 104 seats during the Lok Sabha election held this year. And it lost even the two Lok Sabha seats it had won in 1996.
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