‘In U.P., people remember the BSP for ending goondaism’

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati addressed rallies in Indore and Gwalior on Wednesday, five days before voters are to elect a new government in Madhya Pradesh.

These meetings drew one lakh supporters, primarily from the Gwalior and Chambal divisions bordering Uttar Pradesh. The BSP is contesting in 227 of the 230 constituencies, without an ally or manifesto.

Ms. Mayawati said upper caste voters would be safe only if her party was in power.

“In Uttar Pradesh, people remember the BSP for ending goondaism. ‘Sarvajan’ [people of all communities] got a good government... When I was Chief Minister, I wrote several letters to the Centre, asking for reservation in employment and education for poor people of upper castes and the minorities.... If you want such a government, you must attach sarvajan to our ideology, because only in our rule are they safe.”

Ms. Mayawati said the BSP put up candidates with a clean image. The party was funded only with voluntary contributions from members, and not capitalists.

She termed inadequate the Land Acquisition Bill passed by the UPA government. “There are not adequate provisions for the Scheduled Castes/the Scheduled Tribes and the landless. If the BSP comes to power in Madhya Pradesh, we will grant three acres of public land to the landless for farming... People have become Naxalites because of landlessness and poverty and in tribal States, the people have taken their anger out on the state, public property and politicians. An example is before us, which I do not have to explain.”

Referring to caste violence in the Gwalior region, he said: “In Madhya Pradesh, which has been ruled by our rivals, feudal lords commit crimes on the weaker sections and exploit them. When people go to [police stations] to file FIRs, they are not registered. This is particularly bad in the Gwalior division. When I ruled Uttar Pradesh, we sent the corrupt and criminals to jail.”