Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a political mobilization success story without parallel in independent India.
In a sense, the BSP’s ride to power has been based on two limbs: reservations to secure representation in the civil service and political mobilization to form a government in Uttar Pradesh. It could not have got where it has with only one limb. Now the party is within striking distance of New Delhi.
What of the future? Can it continue in power solely on the basis of being a party bent on redistribution of wealth, jobs and political power? Long-term viability requires that it pay attention to lowering the systematic barriers faced by India’s poor. Caste-based mobilization cannot remove those barriers. There are intrinsic limits to that process. Many parties have ignored that and have then floundered.
The BSP thinks that stage is still in the future. But it should think about such an eventuality and not ignore it.