Delhi Third Front indecisive on BSP

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI: Whether the Bahujan Samaj Party will join hands with the Pragatisheel Jan Morcha for the forthcoming elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi will decide how much impact this five-party alliance will have on the polls.

While efforts are now under way by a section of the Morcha to take the BSP along, there are some other constituents, particularly the Left parties - the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the CPI -- who are opposed to the idea. They feel that it would be better for the alliance, in which the Nationalist Congress Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and Jan Morcha are also members, to rope in Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party instead.

Overall the Morcha is trying to pose a formidable challenge to both the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party by roping in other smaller parties that have presence in pockets across Delhi but can tilt the scales one way or the other as the ward size after MCD delimitation would be down to an electorate of about 50,000 each.

Political observers in the Capital feel that the Morcha is keen to join hands with Mayawati's party as it has a dedicated vote bank in Delhi. "During the last MCD elections it polled 5.75 per cent of the votes. Though this was marginally less than the previous election's tally of 6 per cent, it nevertheless showed that the party has an unwavering cadre-based support in the Capital.''

For the BSP, too, forming an alliance would go a long way in improving its acceptability among the masses in Delhi.

"The party has thus far not been able to realise its dream of having 12 per cent votes in Delhi despite the best of efforts. Being seen with other secular groups would give it greater acceptability,'' said a senior politician.

But the biggest hurdle to BSP's greater presence appears to be the difference of opinion in the Third Front itself.

While Janata Dal (Secular) leader Shoaib Iqbal had stated in Delhi recently that talks were under way with at least five parties that had shown interest in joining the alliance, so far there has been little tangible progress.