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Mayavati eyes desert vacuum

Jaipur, July 3: The Bahujan Samaj Party is attempting to win over Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other sections of the underprivileged in Rajasthan, where the Congress and the BJP are busy wooing the upper castes and Jats.

About 250 sarpanches, mainly Dalits and people from the dominant Meena Scheduled Tribe, are set to join the BSP on July 30, state party vice-president Kailash Meena said.

The Meenas dominate 30 to 35 Assembly constituencies, mainly in eastern and northeastern Rajasthan.

Among those whom the BSP is negotiating with include former pradhans, former student leaders and Independents who lost by narrow margins in the last elections.

The party is also understood to be in close touch with some IAS and IPS officers. Party leader Kanshi Ram and Mayavati are trying to persuade some officers to quit and join the BSP in August when the Uttar Pradesh chief minister launches the organisation’s election campaign.

Sources say Mayavati will be the BSP’s star campaigner. The party will have no manifesto, with atrocities on Dalits as its main poll plank. The party proposes to reopen cases of Dalit atrocities, including instances of upper caste members attacking Dalit grooms as they mounted horses on the way to their weddings.

The party is also focusing on the Rebaris, traditional shepherds and herdsmen who are now settled in one place and raise livestock for a living.

There are 25 lakh Rebaris but they are not represented in the Assembly by a member of their community.

The BSP is promising minority status to Jains as demanded by the community here. They have been given this status in Uttar Pradesh.

To win over Muslims, the party will point out its record in Uttar Pradesh which, it says, has not witnessed any communal riot during the Mayavati regime.

The BSP stand on reservations is reflected in its slogan: “Jiski jitni sankhya bari, utni uski hissedari (a community will be accorded reservation in proportion to its population).”

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