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Caste arithmetic not major factor in Punjab polls

IANS  |  Chandigarh 

may take centre stage in most north Indian states, but in agrarian where Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes make up 55 per cent of state's population, it doesn't play any decisive role, say political experts.

The reason: neither section, whose concentration is highest in the Doaba region (the area between the Beas and the Satluj), have no loyalty to any particular political party.

Though Dalits, both among Sikhs and Hindus, are seen as the Congress' traditional supporters, while the Akalis on the Jat Sikhs (comprising 25 per cent of the population), the present ministry led by is dominated by Jat Sikhs - eight cabinet ministers (including the CM) out of 18, against three ministers and none from Backward Classes.

For the Mayawati-led (BSP), a victory in is still a distant dream, despite the state being the home turf of party founder and having a population of 31.9 per cent - the highest among Indian states.

In the 2017 assembly polls, the BSP's performance was abysmal, which was not strange given its largely unimpressive showing in the Lok Sabha elections in the previous two decades.

Chandigarh-based and Communication's said: "BSP's ideology does not find space in due to the dominance of Sikhism and the Arya Samaj."

According to him, before the BSP entered into state's political scene in 1992, the SCs and the Backward Classes supported either the or the Left parties -- the Communist Party of and the

While the CPI-M's former maintains the BSP got a foothold in the state as "mainstream Left parties hobnobbed with the in their lust of power and forgot the issues of the Dalits", has been on a downward trend since it got a 16 per cent vote share in the 1992 Assembly election.

In 1996, the BSP forged an alliance with the in the parliamentary elections, and they won three of the four seats.

However, by 2017, the party's share reduced to dismal 1.5 per cent, mainly due to emergence of the

Veteran told IANS the six-party coalition - the - which comprises BSP and rebels, could have made the contest three-cornered on some seats by the decisive arithmetic if it had been launched much ahead the election announcement.

He cited the "leadership crisis" for for not coming up in the state.

"With the death of Kanshi Ram, the BSP's focus mainly shifted on strengthening its roots in Since then there is a vacuum of leadership in Punjab," he added.

Interestingly, a BSP candidate - Vikram Singh Sodhi, contesting from Anandpur Sahab - leads the pack of super-rich candidates with assets worth Rs 140.83 crore. Running a business in and owning a huge tract of agricultural land, he is also an player.

Out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the Akali Dal-BJP combine currently holds five (four Akali Dal; one of BJP), while the Congress has four seats and another four.

Punjab will vote on May 19 in the last phase of the multi-stage Lok Sabha elections.

(can be reached at vishal.g@ians.in)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 17:54 IST
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