Lucknow, April 11: Indicating a shift in the party's stand ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the BSP has changed its motto of 'sarvjan hitai, sarvjan sukhai' to 'bahujan hitai, bahujan sukhai', with a clear indication of returning to its roots. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had come to power in Uttar Pradesh through Mayawati's 'social engineering' formula, bringing the upper castes along with Dalits in the 2007 assembly elections, appears to be shifting to its core voter with the new motto.

The slogan was formed to represent 'bahujans' (literally meaning 'community in majority'), referring to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backward classes (OBCs), along with religious minorities. The 'bahujan hitai, bahujan sukhai' motto was used in the press note issued by the BSP informing about the party chief Mayawati's election meetings in Nagpur (Maharashtra) on Thursday. Till the last elections, the BSP's posters had 'sarvjan hitai, sarvajan sukhai' motto. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BSP Releases First List of Two Candidates for Chhattisgarh.

The press note issued by the BSP office has a separate paragraph stating, "In view of the broader interest and welfare of 'bahujan hitai, bahujan sukhai', the BSP is contesting the general elections alone with full preparation and with the strength of its own people's 'tan, man and dhan' without the support or alliance of any party."

According to the party insiders, after the high of 2007 when the BSP had gained an absolute majority by winning 206 seats in the 403-seat Uttar Pradesh Assembly, its electoral graph has been on the slide continuously.

In the 2012 assembly polls, the BSP lost to the Samajwadi Party (SP) but it remained the main opposition party with 80 seats and 25 per cent vote share. Five years later, the BSP's tally of seats declined sharply to 19 and its vote share came down to around 20 per cent. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BSP Releases Second List of Nine Candidates for General Polls in Uttar Pradesh, Fields Hembabu Dhangar From Hathras; Check Names of Candidates.

The BSP had fought the last Lok Sabha election in alliance with the Samajwadi Party bagging 10 seats with the vote share of more than 19 per cent. In 2014, it had failed to win any seat though it maintained its vote percentage. After the party's debacle in the 2022 assembly polls, where it could win only one seat, the leadership is faced with the task of keeping its core voters intact in order to remain relevant in Uttar Pradesh politics, a party leader said on the condition of anonymity.

There has also been a realisation that the party which was formed to address the problems of the deprived sections has gradually moved on the turf that was similar to those pursued by other parties. The BSP was formed against "brahminvaad and manuvaad", its strength was in the unity of sections which were against the affluent and the upper castes, a BSP leader said.

But subsequently the "sawarns" (upper castes) took hold on party posts and ticket allocation, so Dalits started feeling sidelined, he said, adding that the biggest task at hand for the party is to keep its around 13 per cent vote share which it got in the 2022 elections intact.

Another leader said the BSP's strength had been its loyal vote bank which had stayed with it all along. It was because of this core vote that all the other castes, including the upper castes, had joined forces with the party. If this core vote gets scattered, the strength of the party will be lost. "This is also the reason behind the party chief deciding to go alone in these elections, talking about and raising the issues of the 'bahujan samaj' and regain the lost ground," he said.

"Bahujan means sarvjan or sarv samaj. The BSP is the only party in the country which gives representation to the sarv samaj. Before the BSP, there were sections of society which had not got a chance to contest elections be it Pal, Maurya, Prajapati, or Vishwarma," UP unit president of the BSP Vishwanath Pal told PTI.

According to Kunwar Fateh Bahadur (retired IAS), president of social organisation 'Bahujan Bharat', which works for the deprived sections of society, it is important for the party to stay relevant among its core voters if it has to make an impact and bring a change in the lives of the deprived sections.