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Mayawati the lone star in BSP campaign

By Aasha Khosa in New Delhi
April 04, 2009 15:57 IST
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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minster Mayawati's day begins with taking off from Lucknow in one of the nine helicopters hired by her party -- the Bahujan Samaj Party. Generally by noon, she reaches the venue of her first election rally of the day.

Her entourage -- which comprises Satish Chandra Mishra, her confidant and Brahmin face of the BSP; Naseem Uddin Siddiqui, the public works minister and also the Muslim poster-boy; and Babu Singh Kushwaha, minister and the party's state chief, who is projected as the face of the Other Backward Classe -- returns to Lucknow by late evening.

According to party sources, Mayawati's jet-set campaigning began on March 21. Being the lone star campaigner of her party, she has given herself the task of addressing election rallies in 150 towns and cities across the country in a record 52 days --an average of three rallies per day.

According to Ram Subramanium, the BSP general secretary in charge of southern states and a candidate from Coimbtore, his party's campaign is centred around Mayawati and her cult. "We do not need banners, posters, radio and television campaigns. Every candidate wants Mayawati to visit his constituency."

He says Mayawati is too keen to return to Lucknow by evening so that she attends her office and her critics do not blame her for ignoring her responsibilities as chief minister. "She surely is the most jet-lagged campaigner for the coming Lok Sabha elections," Subramanium said.

Nurturing an ambition of becoming the prime minister and seeing the BSP rule at the Centre, Mayawati has nominated candidates for nearly all the 553 Lok Sabha constituencies. "Except for the north-eastern states, we have done an analysis of all the constituencies," a BSP leader said.

The BSP has no political manifesto, as it does not believe in this, yet the individual candidates have been permitted to circulate their "agenda for their constituencies".

Interestingly, Mayawati's election rallies have only her as the speaker, while the trio of Mishra, Siddiqui and Kishwaha merely accompany her. Mayawati introduces them as a team to send across her message of the party's inclusiveness of all communities.

In her speech, Mayawati talks of her party's theme slogan of Sarvjan Hitaye Sarvjan Sukhaye (welfare and prosperity for all) as against its Dalit-centred focus in the past. She highlights the secular ways of the Uttar Pradesh government under her leadership and scheme to benefits all the communities. She also dangles out the promise of reservation for the economically poor sections among the upper castes at her rallies.

According to Subramanium, the party's presence in southern states would bring together Dalits, who in Tamil Nadu alone comprise about 25 per cent of the voters.

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Aasha Khosa in New Delhi
Source: source