Kanshi Ram, a charismatic leader, founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) picked up the baton of Dalit politics in India. Born on March 15, 1934 in Ropar district of Punjab, he was a science graduate, who began a political career in his employee organization named BAMCEF.
In 1991, Etawah’s electorate voted Kanshi Ram to power, amid 48 candidates who were in the fray for the unreserved seat in Lok Sabha constituency. Bagging 1,44,290 votes, he was voted to power, while his nearest BJP candidate Lal Singh Verma got 22, 466.
Kanshi Ram united the Dalit workers of his organisation in one thread and undeniably remained their greatest leader. He worked as a scientific assistant in the Defense Production Department in Pune, later he quit his job and took up the cause of Dalit politics. The campaign to unite the Dalits and make them a political force began in the 1970s. With years of hard work and impressive organizational capacity, he took the BSP to corridors of power.
After BAMCEF, he formed the Dalit-Shoshit Manch DS-Four in the 1980s and entered Bahujan Samaj Party in electoral politics in 1984. By the 1990s, the BSP acquired a decisive role in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, where Kanshi Ram openly said that his party does politics of power and it should come to power in any way. He also believed being in power would boost Dalit’s self-confidence.
With the help of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kanshi Ram won the Lok Sabha election from Etawah in 1991, while Mulayam’s close aide Ram Singh Shakya was a candidate from Janata Party and got only 82,624 votes. After this victory, an alliance of Mulayam and Kanshi Ram began in Uttar Pradesh which proved to be beneficial for Mulayam Singh Yadav as he formed his government in the state in 1995.
However, after the infamous guest house scandal on June 2, 1995, the altercation between the SP and BSP became so overwhelming that the two parties became each other’s enemy. In the parliamentary elections of 2019, the SP- BSP once again formed an alliance, but the BSP got the benefit of the alliance, SP did not. On the contrary, Mayawati accused the SP of deflecting down the vote bank.