SAHARANPUR: "Along with tickets we give our candidates a basket of votes; this is something no other party can do," brags a local BSP activist sitting outside the party office. The truth in that statement is evident from the low-key but highly effective mode of the party’s campaigning, hardly a week before the assembly elections in this last UP district bordering Uttaranchal.
In the race of vehicles, flags and banners, the BSP is definitely behind its major rivals, the BJP, the SP and the Congress. But the fact that the party’s chief ministerial candidate, Mayawati, has not yet returned to her Harora constituency since filing her nomination is a clear measure of the party’s faith in its support base. She is scheduled to address only one election meeting in Saharanpur on February 9.
The district, which is part of western UP’s prosperous green-revolution belt, has seen the BSP’s efforts for a unique consolidation of Dalits and Muslims as an attempt to resist the advance of both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party.
Isam Singh, Mayawati’s chief election agent, claims that the development projects taken up by the UP government during her short spell as chief minister have earned people’s goodwill. "For the first time, Saharanpur got a lot of attention from Lucknow," he says.
To ensure victory of its candidates, the BSP has pressed into service the cadres of BAMCEF, the organisation which has a strong hold over the Dalit employees of the government and students.
An issue which is being exploited by both the BSP and the SP is the hardship facing a large number of artisans and businessmen involved in the local wood-carving industry. The industry employing about 1.5 lakh people and with an impressive export figure, Rs 120 crore, has been plagued by high costs of timber. The UP government’s decision a few years ago to ban timber import from Nepal has worsened their condition. Wood carvers were further agitated by cost hikes and inadequate raw material supplies.
"We want the government to supply us the raw material if it wants to save this export-earning industry," says a local artisan. A local SP leader says, Mulayam has apparently given such an assurance.
In a district where the Muslims and the Dalits jointly can tilt the table in favour of any party, the BJP claims an advantage on account of its new alliance with Ajit Singh’s Lok Dal. While the other parties have fielded a number of Muslim candidates ensuring a split in the minority votes, the BJP, upbeat with Lok Dal support, claims that has given them an advantage.
GHAZIABAD: Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati on Friday said her party would not support any party for the formation of a government in Uttar Pradesh in the event of a hung assembly.
Mayawati, addressing an election rally here, said her party would be content to sit in the Opposition benches if it did not get the required majorty.
She categorically ruled out any truck with the BJP or the Samajwadi Party stating it was "beyond imagination".
Charging UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh with creating social injustice and lawlessness in the state, Mayawati said the BJP governments have been a "total failure" both in the state and at the Centre.
She said "the BJP's graph of popularity based on the Ram temple issue had touched the bottom line".
Shashi Pal Jain
Kharar, February 8
Mr Kanshi Ram today appealed to the voters of Ropar district to vote for the BSP-Panthic Morcha candidate in the coming elections. He said the contest in the Morinda constituency was not for the election of MLA alone, but for making Mr Ravi Inder Singh as the next Chief Minister of Punjab.
Addressing a gathering at Kurali and Kharar this afternoon, he said his target was to install a Panthic regime in the state.
He said the BSP at present was the “third national party” and he wanted to make it the” first national party”.
Mr Kanshi Ram appealed to the people to vote for Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala for a “bright future”.
Mr Ravi Inder Singh, addressing a gathering in Kurali, said their endeavour was to make Mr Kanshi Ram the next Prime Minister of India.
Mr Raja Singh, a former MLA of Kurali, appealed to the people to vote for Mr Ravi Inder Singh. Mr Jasbir Singh Rode said the eyes of all Sikhs were on the Morinda seat.
Bhai Ranjit Singh said Mr Badal was blaming them for helping the Congress but it was Mr Badal who had his children married in to Congress families.
Among others, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala and Ms Jaswinder Kaur spoke on this occasion.
Harora (Saharanpur), February 8
The Vice-President of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Ms Mayawati seems to be triumphantly riding her elephant in this constituency spread in rural areas of Shivalik foothills. Her contest here is drawing a nationwide attention as she is one of the main contenders in the race for the chief ministership of the biggest state of India.
Ms Mayawati here is locked in a fierce contest against another woman stalwart of the Samajwadi party, Ms Bimla Rakesh.
Ms Rakesh had been returned from Harora (R) constituency three times. Therefore, the elephant of Ms Mayawati has to tread carefully. Her difficulties have been compounded further as she is the lone star campaigner of BSP in the entire state of UP. Her political guru, Mr Kanshi Ram, is busy in bettering the poll prospects of BSP candidates in Punjab.
As she had been busy canvassing for all BSP candidates throughout UP, she had not been able to find time for Harora voters. So far she has visited her constituency only twice. As per her election managers, she is scheduled to address an election rally in Saharanpur on February 9.
As one enters Kailashpur (a part of Harora) and a suberb of Saharanpur city, one feels Mayawati’s presence. The entire town is full of buntings and posters of Mayawati. There is not even a single posture or flag of any other party. It was here that Mayawati had constructed an impressive and well-laid out park when she was the Chief Minister of UP. In Gagal Heri town on the Saharanpur-Dehradun road, shops and roadside are full of Mayawati’s posters. The BSP’s main poll office is also located in this town. In Mayawati’s one-room office 10 young men all in their early twenties are sitting on small chairs. There is no tent outside the office and no vehicles are parked there. Only the flags and buntings show that this is the room from where the prospective Chief Minister of UP is guiding her campaign. The office also sans any public addressing system.
The boys emphatically say “behanji” as they call her will win convincingly and even there will be an increase in their margin of victory. In fact Ms Mayawati is considered a symbol of the uplift of the poor of this area.
The SCs who constitute the core of her support have 84,000 voters spread over 273 villages of the constituency. It is difficult to divide them. Besides, Ms Mayawati enjoys considerable support amongst the Muslims. This time, she is playing the “Swaran” card also. Her party has discarded the slogan ‘Tilak tarazoo aur talwar, inko maro jute char’. Her supporters run her campaign in 30 vehicles. Ms Mayawati won from Harora for the first time in 1996. She again contested in 1998 and polled over 84,000 votes. Her victory margin was about 27,000 votes. But she resigned the seat and in the byelection which followed the BSP candidate, Mr Jagpal, romped home. Ms Mayawati’s supporters now expect that her victory margin will increase. However, despite this Ms Bimla Rakesh, who is fighting on the Samajwadi Party ticket is no-nonsense lady. She won from Harora (R) in 1985 on the Lok Dal ticket. Again she won the seat in 1989 and 1991 on the Janata Dal ticket. She is known for her civilised behaviour. During her three stints, she had been able to create an army of loyal supporters and had created cells in each village. Moreover, as she is a resident of Saharanpur, she is easily accessible.
Ms Rakesh’s additional advantage is that this time she is carrying the tag of Samajwadi Party. It is being surmised that if the Muslims patronised the Mulayam Singh party in the past, the path of Mayawati would be beset with difficulties. In all her election rallies, Ms Bimla Rakesh emphatically stresses the point that Ms Mayawati will not be able to devote time for people as she is an “outsider”.
She accuses Ms Mayawati of leaving her voters in the lurch after winning from here in the 1998 poll. Ms Rakesh also maintains that her five terms as MLA she had created infrastructure for development in the constituency.
The BJP candidate Mr Mahipal Singh Balmiki, is also concentrating on BC voters. The BJPs main strategy is to weaken Ms Mayawati by making divisions amongst the SCs and BCs. The BJP also expects that Jats will support the party because of Ajit Singh. The Indian Ekta party candidate, Mr Mohar Singh, had represented the constituency in 1993 on the BJP ticket. He is being helped by Mr Rashid Masood — known Muslim politician of the area.
The Congress has nominated Ms Kusumlata. As yet, the Congress is now here in the race. But the visit of Ms Sonia Gandhi to Saharanpur on February 9 can help the party to show a respectable presence. The National Lok Tantrik party is also in the fray. In all there are 2,44,120 voters’, including 1,33,365 men and 1,10,755 women.
As the leader of Ms Mayawati’s stature is fighting from here, the district administration has taken strong security measures to check the entry of anti-social elements in the area.
New Delhi, February 10
In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional provision empowering Parliament to make reservation of seats for scheduled castes(SCs) and scheduled tribes(STs). This ruling was given by a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice S P Bharucha, Justice S S M Quadri, Justice U C Banerjee, Justice S N Variava and Justice Shivaraj V Patil while dealing with the Constitutional Validity of Constitution (72nd amendment) Act, 1992 dealing with Tripura.
By an agreement dated August 12, 1988, representatives from the Centre, state and Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) agreed that the seats reserved for tribals would be increased 17 to 19 in the 60-member House.
A writ petition filed by Subrata Acharjee and others challenged the constitutional validity of the effort of Parliament to provide for reservation of seats for STs in the Tripura House on a basis other than the actual proportion of such population in the state.
The petitioners contended that under Article 332(3b)the Constitution provided reservation of seats for STs in Tripura Assembly as per their proportion to the total population of the state.
Dismissing the petitions as "without merit", Justice Banerjee said, "Parliament is the authority to understand and appreciate the need of the situation and in its wisdom has incorporated the amendment as envisaged in Article 332(3b)."
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, February 9
The movement against the use of liquor and drugs during the elections gained impetus yesterday when nearly 1,000 Dalit youths, led by the Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission, took oath not to vote for liquor or drugs.
The Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, an NGO, is already organising rallies and awareness programmes against the use of liquor and drugs during elections in the state.
The mission, a social organisation, which has branches in other countries also, works for the education and welfare of the Dalits. It has taken up cudgels against the menace of drug use in the elections. It is using traditional form of art ?Jago? in Dalit dominated areas to mobilise the youths against the menace. Mr Shiv Ram Saroay and Mr Jaswant Kataria, both office-bearers of the mission, said, ?The candidates who are spending Rs 50 to Rs 70 lakh in the elections are just trying to purchase the votes through liquor and drugs. Our aim is to expose their deeds and demand education, employment and health facilities for the illiterate and poor youths.?
Interestingly, a large number of youths from Salem Tabri, Dr Ambedkar Chowk, Karabara, Basti Jodhewal, Ghati Valmiki, Dharampura and Ambedkar Nagar taken out a procession in the city. They raised slogans against use of intoxicants, unemployment and corruption.
By Radha Venkatesan
CHENNAI, FEB. 10. Faced with protests from Dalit outfits, the State Adi-Dravidar Welfare department has asked the Government to drop the controversial proposal to do away with special schools for SC and ST students.
In a sudden volte-face, the department, which till recently pushed the proposal for merging the SC\ST schools with general schools, has now recommended that they remain ``special'' at least for sometime now.
The Chief Secretary, P. Shankar, has convened a meeting of officials of the Education and Adi-Dravidar Welfare department's to decide on the fate of the special schools.
Called the Adi-Dravidar Welfare Schools and the Government Tribal Residential schools, these 1260 ``special'' institutions, started a few decades ago to improve the woefully low literacy rate among SC\STs and only SC\ST teachers were recruited.
However, the State Planning Commission, which reviewed functioning of the schools recently, felt that the resources spent on SC\ST education uplift had not brought significant gains to the community. While the literacy rate in the State is about 63 per cent, only about 46 per cent of SC\STs are literate. But the Government has been spending as much as Rs. 50 crores on running the 1017 ADWS and 243 GTRS.
Hence, the Adi-Dravidar Welfare department drew up a proposal to shift these schools under its control to the Education department and admit students from all communities in the schools. But, instantly the move came under fire with the 8,890 teachers of the special schools and Dalit outfits threatening to take to streets.
Consequently, the Government directed the Department of Evaluation and Applied Research to conduct a quick appraisal of the schools. According to the assessment report, the students of the schools performed ``relatively higher'' than the SC\ST students in general schools under the Education department.
For instance, in the Plus-Two public examination, the special school students scored 17 per cent more than their counterparts in general schools. But the report exposes the ``poor condition'' of the hostels and the increasing drop-out rate caused by the falling quality of education in the special schools.
So, the Adi Dravidar Welfare department has suggested that ``time is not ripe'' for abandoning the special schools as the SC\ST literacy rate is still low. Also, there is the threat of the Government losing the special funding package from the Centre.
And, if the department has its way, the schools will remain ``special and untouchable'', at least for few years.
AJIT KUMAR JHA
SAHARANPUR, FEBRUARY 10: THERE was no film stars dancing to the beat of Mere angne mein. No talk of global terrorism or war clouds in the sky. Just a straight and simple 45-minute speech in Gandhi Park here that instantly connected to the thronging masses: representation of all sections according to their population, the lack of law and order and progress under the BJP regime in Uttar Pradesh and why Dalits, Muslims, backwards and even poor forwards should join the new Bahujan coalition. And, some tips on the new electronic voting system.
Welcome to Mayawati?s weekend campaign rallies in Western UP, stretching from Baghpat to Saharanpur. Incidentally, the BSP Vice-president is herself contesting from the neighbouring seat of Harora, where she refuses to go until counting day. ??I don?t need dancers and film stars like Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bhaduri to build up my crowds. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who?s losing his public appeal and party control, needs it,?? says Mayawati.
The crowd roars in approval. ??Rajnath Singh believes in divide and rule. He divided the people into extremely backward and Dalit and less backward and Dalit. I believe in unifying them into a common bhaichara, alongwith Muslims and forwards. Look at my ticket distribution, it proportionate to the population,?? she continues. The mammoth crowd claps with a standing ovation.
This is a different Mayawati, a more moderate, mature politician. Being out of power for long has taught her the advantages of building coalitions, not across political parties but across communities and castes of the Bahujan family. Her crowd-pulling power is now fortified by political strategy: representation to all social sections proportionate to their population. Thus, the BSP has fielded 86 Muslim candidates, 127 backwards, 98 Dalits (14 more than the reserved quota) and 92 upper castes.
In the 1996 Assembly elections, the BSP, which then had an alliance with the Congress, lost 91 seats in UP with a margin of less than 5,000 votes. The majority of what pollsters call ??swing seats?? were in Western UP, between Agra and Saharanpur. This area is dominated by Jats, Muslims, Gujjars and Dalits. With the exception of Yadav, this was the old ?AJGAR? coalition of Choudhary Charan Singh, which is now in tatters after his son Ajit Singh joined the BJP-led coalition. With the Jats divided between Ajit Singh and Om Prakash Chautala and the Yadav votes conspicious by its absence in this region, Mayawati reasons that the best bet for the 20% Muslim voters is to ally with the 22% Dalit voters.
Thousands of her Dalit and Muslim supporters have been pouring in from across the region in bicycles and buses, tractors and trolleys since the morning in Baghpat, Muzzafarnagar, Saharanpur and other towns in this Upper Doab region.
Seventy-year-old Kareshni, arched like a bow by old age and a bad back, had come all the way from Naugarh, a village 15 km away from Saharanpur, to listen to her beti. ??Because she brought electricity in the early 90s for the first time to my village. Today, the bulbs don?t light up for more than two hours.??
Kashmiri, a 50-year-old labourer, is tired of the slush and mud in her area. ??There is no drainage in the entire village. We live in ankle-deep water throughout the year. Mayawati brought a brick-built road for the first time to my village,?? says Kashmiri.
While Mansur Ali loves Mayawati for her freedom to move around in the area. ??There are encounter deaths almost every month in this area. Innocents are arrested almost every day. We fear the police more than terrorists,?? says Mansur. The reasons may differ, but, as Mayawati points out, they all support her for ??political reasons, not because I can dance and sing.??
JAMMU, Feb 9: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate for Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency Sheikh Abdul Rehman held a series of public meetings in Poonch and Mandi areas of the border district and was given rousing reception by the public at various places.
At Mandi, a big rally passed through the main bazar and the public raised slogans in favour of BSP.
Addressing the gathering, BSP supremo lambasted the National Conference and BJP for their unwholly nexus at the Centre as also in the state affairs who are befooling and exploiting the public in the name of Mandir and autonomy issues.
He said both these parties have been playing with the sentiments of the public and in return have plagued the society with unprecendented corruption, nepotism, unemployment and deprivation to the weaker sections of the society especially Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes.
Severly criticising the recent statement of Prime Minister regarding grant of scheduled caste status to most backward classes among Muslims, Mr Rehman said that it is the cheapest type of politics to woo the Muslims at the time of elections who are otherwise well aware of the policies of BJP which is being remotely controlled by Bajrang Dal, VHP and RSS like communal forces.
Meanwhile, vice-president of BSP Mr Hans Raj Chargotra kicked off election campaigning for Sheikh Abdul Rehman and held series of election meetings at village Sarote, Mahra Dabbar in Bhalwal block, Sukaiter and Bain Bajalta.
He lambasted at NC Government for its failure on all fronts and said that NC is responsible for the woes and miseries of the people and descrived the State Government as anti-SC and ST.
Vice-president of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for Doda district Mr Hans Raj Bhagat today resigned from the party.
As per a release, Mr Bhagat said that he resigned from the party for the failure of party to redress the grievences of people of Kishtwar, anti-Dalit policies, induction of unsuitable and corrupt persons in the party, lack of sympathy towards party workers and complete failure in respect of adjusting SC and OBC candidates in Government jobs despite tall promises.