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BSP out to make its presence felt in Bidar

By Our Staff Correspondent

BIDAR, OCT. 3. The presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the poll fray may have a significant bearing on the outcome this time. Syed Zulfikar Hashmi was the first person in South India to enter an Assembly when he won the 1994 elections from Bidar on the BSP ticket. But the party's strength weakened after he lost the elections in 1999.

Mr. Hashmi, who was the BSP State unit president in 1999, campaigned for the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, in the Bellary parliamentary election. He joined the Congress in 2004 and tried to secure the party ticket for the Bidar Assembly seat. When it was refused, he contested as an independent and lost.

Vote share

Mr. Hashmi, however, seems to have almost retained his vote share. He got 25,433 votes in 1994, 43,241 in 1999, and 39,627 votes in 2004.

The BSP Bidar district unit president, Vaijanath Suryavanshi, whose nomination for the Aurad Assembly election was rejected in 2004, supported the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, Gundappa Vakil. Shankar Doddi, founder-convenor of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti in the district, was also an active member of the BSP for nearly a decade before joining the BJP just before the 2004 general elections. But he joined the Congress at a rally attended by the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, on Friday.

Campaign

This time, the BSP has fielded Chandrakanth Mahadevappa Gaddage, who runs a chain of educational institutions in Gulbarga. The party has begun a high voltage campaign. It has brought out digitally printed posters and hired a large number of vehicles for the campaigning. The Rajya Sabha member and BSP leader, Gandhi Azad, kicked off the party's campaign. Small groups of women have been engaged in a door-to-door campaign.

Mayawati's visit

The highlight of the campaign will, however, be the visit of the party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, to Bidar on October 10. The sentimental attachment among the Dalits to the BSP's "elephant" symbol is also said to be significant.

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