Special Correspondent

BSP planning a massive rally at Shivaji Park on November 25

Several Congress, NCP members have joined BSP

‘Shiv Sena men too keen on joining the party’

MUMBAI: After her unprecedented victory in Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati is now eyeing Maharashtra.

The BSP is planning a “record breaking” rally in Shivaji Park on November 25. Ahead of the rally, several members of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Republican Party of India (RPI) (Athavale group) have reportedly joined the party.

“Deep inroads”

BSP Maharashtra president Vilas Garud told the press on Monday that the party had made deep inroads into the State and recruited over 10-lakh office-bearers. More people were expected to join the BSP on the day of the rally.

About 50 per cent of the organisational work had been completed and by the time of the 2009 elections the party would consolidate itself. He said people were from various parties, including the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and some film stars, had expressed interest in joining the BSP. Among the people who have reportedly cast their lot with the BSP are Anupchand Shah, former Congress MP, Dr. Madhukar Patil, former Congress MLA from Jalgaon, Dr. Pandurang Dhole, former Janata Dal MLA from Chandur Railway (Amravati), Gangadhar Gade, former Minister, Sangram Singh Gaikwad and Sadanand Shetty, vice-president Pune Congress Committee and ex-corporator from Pune.

There was some defection from the RPI (Athavale group) with Mahesh Tanna, vice-president, Kartar Singh and Gulabrao Nikam joining the BSP. Dilip Kamble from the Bharatiya Republican Party-Bahujan Mahasangh; Devidas Dolas, NCP’s Pimpri Chinchwad president; and Vidya Vastan from the MNS also have joined the BSP.

While the BSP did not win a seat in the last general and Assembly elections in Maharashtra, its candidates undermined the fortunes of other parties. It is expected to do better in the next elections with the social engineering formula involving the Dalits, the other backward classes, the upper castes and the Muslims. The party is also planning some meetings with the upper castes in various parts of the State.

After Ms. Mayawati’s victory in U.P., about 100 “vijay raths” or victory processions were taken out in the Dalit-dominated areas of Maharashtra. The BSP contested 272 of the 288 Assembly seats in 2004 and 46 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.