The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is likely to contest alone in Bihar for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, as party leaders hinted it will not be a part of the opposition's Grand Alliance.
BSP's Bihar in-charge Lalji Medhkar said the BSP would contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. "BSP chief Mayawati has instructed us to prepare to contest from all seats in Bihar," he added.
He also said the party would not join hands with the Grand Alliance. "BSP will contest the polls on its own," he said.
According to him, Mayawati has invited BSP leaders of Bihar to Delhi for a meeting ahead of the polls. She will finalise the party's strategy with them and then announce its candidates.
The move is a political setback for the Grand Alliance in Bihar, which was waiting for the BSP to join, in hope of putting up a united opposition against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav had even met Mayawati in Lucknow in January, when it was being speculated that the BSP will be a part of the Grand Alliance.
The BSP has some strong pockets in Bihar, particularly in Gopalganj, Kaimur and Rohtas which are near the Uttar Pradesh border.
Ironically, however, Tejashwi planned to give the BSP just one or two seats.
Medhkar said political scenarios are very different in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
An RJD leader admitted that the BSP's social support base was well known with a particular Dalit caste. It also enjoys support in over half-a-dozen Lok Sabha seats.
The development comes amid reports of another Grand Alliance component, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi being unhappy over the seats offered to his party.
"My party should get a respectable number of seats. We have a large vote bank," Manjhi, another Dalit leader, has been repeatedly saying.
And after Manjhi's seat-sharing talks with RJD chief Lalu Prasad in Ranchi failed, there are growingrumours that he may join the NDA as the BJP has offered him full respect and honour.
The 'Mahagathbandhan' in Bihar comprises the Congress, the RJD, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) led by former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, the HAM led by Manjhi and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahni.
The Left parties, including CPI, CPI-M, and CPI-ML, too are likely to contest polls together as part of the Grand Alliance.
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