BSP supporters demand key role for Akash Anand after party’s dismal show in Lok Sabha polls

Calls have grown for the return of Mayawati’s nephew to a prominent role in the party; he was removed as national coordinator ahead of the recent Lok Sabha election

Updated - June 11, 2024 12:56 am IST

Published - June 10, 2024 09:37 pm IST - Lucknow

Agra: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) National Coordinator Akash Anand. File

Agra: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) National Coordinator Akash Anand. File | Photo Credit: PTI

After the Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) dismal show in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election, supporters of the Dalit-centric party are demanding that its former national coordinator Akash Anand be given a prominent role yet again.

Many BSP supporters took to X (formerly Twitter) to demand a key role in party affairs for Mr. Anand, who was removed from the high-profile post of national coordinator, in the middle of election campaigning by party president and former four-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. The hashtag “Akash Anand” was trending on X for a few hours on Sunday and Monday, with calls for major changes in the organisation as the party registered its worst performance in more than three decades.

“Respected Mayawatiji you are a kingmaker, why is the society moving away from you? I feel very sad, please focus on our BSP again. Why do you remain silent, why don’t you push Akash bhai [Akash Anand] forward? And if you had to keep Akash bhai away, then why did you push him forward in the first place? The sky is not free, he is the hope,” wrote X user Sushma, claiming to be a BSP supporter and Ambedkarite.  Ram Ratan, another the BSP supporter, added, “Bahujan Akash Anand should return, this is a request to our respected Mayawatiji. Preparation for 2027 should begin, Jai Bhim, Jai Samvidhan, BSP Zindabad”.

The micro-blogging platform was flooded with such posts tagging the BSP official handle. 

Besides failing to win any seat, the BSP polled only 9% votes in the 2024 Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, its lowest since the 1991 election. The party which remained a formidable player in the political landscape of India’s most populous State, forming government on its own in the 2007 Assembly election by winning 206 out of 403 seats, had witnessed a sharp decline in the past decade.

From polling 27.42% votes and winning 20 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election to winning nil seats in 2024, the fall has been steep for the BSP. In Nagina (SC) reserved constituency — a traditional bastion of the BSP — Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) leader Chandrashekhar Azad beat nearest rival Om Kumar of the BJP by over 1,50,000 votes, while BSP candidate Surendra Pal Singh could manage only 13,272 votes. 

Months after declaring her nephew Mr. Anand as political heir, Ms. Mayawati on May 7 removed him from the post of BSP’s national coordinator, saying that he needs to reach “maturity” before assuming important roles. “It is known that the BSP, besides being a party, is also a movement for self-respect and self-esteem of Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and social change for which Shri Kanshi Ram Ji and I have dedicated our entire lives and a new generation is also being prepared to give it momentum. In the same sequence, along with promoting other people in the party, I declared Shri Akash Anand as the National Coordinator and successor, but in the larger interest of the party and the movement, he is being separated from both these important responsibilities until he attains full maturity,” announced Ms. Mayawati on X.

The move led to a political slugfest with the Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav alleging that the decision is taken fearing defeat in the Lok Sabha election. 

Dalit activists argue that the demand gaining momentum is from core BSP supporters who want the party to remain relevant amid continued erosion in support base and believe that Mr. Anand is the last hope. “The way BSP’s vote base decreased, it signifies shift towards irrelevance. With Chandrashekhar Azad winning Nagina seat, there is probability that the remaining voter base of the BSP might shift towards Mr. Azad’s party. Hence, the core supporter of the BSP sees hope in Mr. Anand to revive the party, as during the 2024 campaign he showed maturity to address the BSP’s core support base. The demand on social media is the reflection of this evolving politics,” said Ravi Kant, an Ambedkarite and Associate Professor in Lucknow University.

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